Harbhajan Singh faces conflict of interest allegation for Bhajji Sports
After the former Indian captain, Sourav Ganguly, another Indian player has been linked with an allegation of conflict of interest. The BCCI ombudsman, Justice AP Shah, has asked India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh to respond to an allegation of conflict of interest related to his links to a sports apparel company called Bhajji Sports. The company sponsors various state teams in domestic cricket.
On January 16, Justice Shah forwarded a complaint from Mumbai-based activist Niraj Gunde to Harbhajan. Justice Shah asked the player to respond to the allegation by January 30.
Harbhajan Singh’s company Bhajji sports is sponsoring upto 6 Ranji Teams: Gunde
On January 14, Gunde wrote in an email to Shah which was copied to the BCCI president Shashank Manohar and the BCCI manager, Game Development, Ratnakar Shetty.
Gunde wrote, "It is widely reported that Mr. Harbhajan Singh had started a company by name of Bhajji sports, which is a sports apparel company. Further, news reports have indicated that this Bhajji sports is sponsoring upto 6 Ranji Teams (Member Associations of the BCCI)."
According to Gunde, Harbhajan has specifically violated the sub-clauses C and D dealing with conflict of interest in the three-page document prepared by Manohar. The board president had listed various guidelines that would help administrators, match officials, players and board staffs avoid involvement in a conflict of interest.
Manohar wrote in his guidelines for current players:
Code A. Current Cricketers shall declare the name and details of his/her Player Agent or the Player Management Company.
Code B. Current Cricketers shall not have any business interest in a Player Management Company.
Code C. Current Cricketers shall not have any conflict arising with the BCCI sponsors including the apparel sponsor.
Code D. Current Cricketers shall not accept any Controlling position in any Commercial Organization having a contract with the BCCI or its State Unit.
Gunde concluded in his e-mail by writing, "It is very clear from the above context, Mr. Harbhajan Singh is conflicted in C & D of the code."
This is the second complaint that the BCCI ombudsman has received over the last week. The first one had raised an allegation of conflict of interest against Ganguly, who has been asked to respond by January 28.
The complaint against Ganguly was also filed by Gunde. The former batsman has a commercial tie-up with the RP Sanjiv Goenka Group, which has a stake in the Atletico de Kolkata football club in Indian Super League (ISL) and, in December 2015, also secured the rights to run the Pune franchise in the IPL.