Former Sports Minister MS Gill on Thursday lashed out at the BCCI for being persistent with hosting Indian Premier League matches in Maharashtra despite the state being affected by drought. He also said the cricket board had converted the Indian public to ‘zombies of cricket’ by foisting tournaments like IPL ‘tamasha’. (Full IPL 2016 coverage)Gill, who served as the Union Sports Minister from April 2008 to May 2009 and currently a Rajya Sabha member from Punjab, was reacting after Bombay High Court raised questions on why water should be wasted on hosting IPL matches in Maharashtra when the state is facing one of its worst-ever droughts. (Also read: Ponting backs Rohit to rediscover golden touch) In total, 20 IPL matches are scheduled to be held in Maharashtra in three venues — Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur.”The drought condition in Maharashtra is so severe that in a few days people in areas like Marathwada will not even have a glass of water to drink. As a former Sports Minister and ex-Agriculture Secretary, I know that several parts of Maharashtra are bone dry and I am amazed that in this situation the BCCI wants to hold these IPL matches,” Gill told PTI today. (Also read: Fitness not captaincy the major challenge for Zaheer, Daredevils)”Cricket is no longer a sport and the BCCI has converted it into a serious commercial enterprise. Cricket matches are happening all through 12 months in a year and it is not good for the public and for the children. They (BCCI) have made the Indian public zombies of cricket,” Gill, who also served as Chief Election Commissioner of India between 1996 – 2001, said. (Clash of the captains: It’s MS Dhoni vs Virat Kohli )advertisementGill said the BCCI should not think that they can do things which are against the general mood of the country. (Also read: Complete list of IPL 9 teams) “Several parts of India face drought situations every year and it’s the worst in Maharashtra. In this situation the BCCI have scheduled 20 matches in Maharashtra. A huge amount of water will be required for these matches. The BCCI should have some sanity in their thinking and they should shift these IPL matches out of Maharashtra,” the 79-year-old former Indian Administrative Service officer said.”They can hold these IPL matches in states like Haryana, Punjab or Uttar Pradesh where the problem of water scarcity is not that big an issue. In any case, this IPL is a tamasha and it not serving the game of cricket. The Romans gave the world the Gladiators Fight and now the BCCI has given the Indian public this tamasha called the IPL. It is nothing but a purely commercial event meant for money making,” he added.
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook For most players the World Cup is the culmination of a long journey that requires years of sacrifice. But in terms of dedication there are not many who can compete with the story of three young supporters from South Africa who are finally living out their dream 20 years after falling in love with the tournament.“After following a strict and detailed five-year savings plan, myself and two close friends have just landed in Russia,” wrote Fhatuwani Mpfuni, who grew up in the Mamvuka township in Limpopo, 500 miles north of Johannesburg, on Twitter last week. In a comprehensive thread, the 28-year-old went on to describe the remarkable lengths he, Thami Khuzwayo and Brian Moshoeshoe have gone to fulfil their ambition of attending a World Cup in person after being denied the opportunity of watching it on home soil because they could not afford the ticket prices. “It’s amazing,” Mpfuni tells the Guardian from St Petersburg, having travelled there after attending Morocco’s game against Iran on Friday. “When I walked into the stadium I was muted for five minutes and just recollecting the memories. In 1998 I fell in love with football and dreamt of going to a World Cup. But when you’re from a village where you don’t even have things like running water, it can seem like something that will never actually happen.”The story began when South Africa – known as Bafana Bafana – qualified for their first finals only four years after Nelson Mandela was elected as the country’s first black president. “We didn’t have a TV for the first eight years of my life but a day before [France 98] started my dad surprised us by bringing one home,” remembers Mpfuni.“At that time we had no electricity in the village so the only way to watch it was by using a generator. Most of the village would come to our house during the tournament and I will always remember the first game against France. We lost 3-0 and everyone was saying Pierre Issa [who scored an own goal] isn’t really South African. Maybe it was a conspiracy or something …” Facebook Twitter Pinterest features Read more World Cup World Cup 2018 Share on Messenger Reuse this content ‘Much nicer than expected’: World Cup fans size up modern Moscow South Africa Share via Email Nelson Mandela with Lucas Radebe ahead of the 1998 World Cup. South Africa lost their opening match 3-0 to eventual champions France. Photograph: Peter Andrews/REUTERS Share on WhatsApp Topics Share on Pinterest South Africa football team Bitten by the World Cup bug, he vowed to attend a match one day. Yet even after Mandela helped secure the 2010 tournament for South Africa, Mpfuni found the cost of tickets was out of reach for his student budget and he was forced to make do with the Fifa fan park in Soweto. “I was living in Johannesburg but couldn’t afford to pay for a ticket. We tried but there was no way that it was going to work. I still enjoyed it but not going just made me even more determined to see a match one day.”Having made a pact with his friends, an attempt to get to Brazil in 2014 was aborted when the trio realised they did not even have enough money to cover return flights, “never mind accommodation, logistics, tickets, food. So for the fifth time in my life I watched the World Cup on the telly.” Undeterred, they devised a rigorous savings plan to ensure they would not make the same mistake again.“We had to cut out a lot of things,” admits Mpfuni. “The money that we had already saved went into the pot and we started trying to save a little every month. As the years went by, we increased it, but the key was to make sure we had a list of all the things we needed. It also helped that we were able to book things like our flights and accommodation earlier than most people. We had another friend who wanted to join us but he found it was just too expensive.”Five years – and around £3,000 – later they arrived in Moscow. “It’s even better than I imagined,” says Mpfuni. “When the World Cup came to South Africa I saw the vibe around the country but being here is just unbelievable. We always carry our South African flags with us everywhere we go and the love we have been getting from other people has been fantastic.”He adds: “I was a bit sceptical before I came because of some of the stories I’ve heard about racism but I haven’t seen anything like that. In Moscow everybody just seems to mind their own business and were not as friendly but in St Petersburg we have had a brilliant response. We walk down the street and people ask to take pictures with us.”In the absence of Bafana Bafana, they have adopted the other African nations, although that has not exactly gone to plan with Morocco and Egypt already eliminated and defeats for Nigeria and Tunisia in their opening matches. Nonetheless, Mpfuni is already planning a trip to Qatar 2022 despite another important upcoming event. “I’m getting married soon so it might be a bit more difficult to save,” he admits.“But I will definitely be coming back. The love I have been shown has been unbelievable. I’m getting messages from all over the world every day telling me how my story has really inspired them. I’m not just living my dream. I’m also showing that, if you really want something, you can achieve it if you really work hard for it.” Share on LinkedIn