It would be naïve to think, after all the dramatic revelations this week of just how far the tentacles of the Guptas have infiltrated into practically every organ of state, that sport in this country is okay. Never mind football’s problems now that Fifa have named South Africa as being complicit in bribery.
Sports Minister Razzmatazz may just want to carry on partying and living the life, hoping it all just goes away (“Fifa must retract”, have you ever?), but the government’s ability to make things just disappear doesn’t work so well in overseas courts.
And cricket could face another day of reckoning once it is exposed just how thoroughly Cricket South Africa sold out to the Guptas. It was a few years ago, but many of those same, morally deficient administrators are still on the board.
As with so many of CSA’s problems, it all started with the IPL South Africa hosted in 2009. Initially it all looked okay, a wonderful jamboree of cricket brought to our shores. But it didn’t take long for the sordid underside of the tournament to become visible.
Such a billion dollar event was obviously going to be irresistible to the rapacious Guptas and their fingers had to be in the pie. The Family (ironically, this is how they are known in cricket circles) were involved in the assault of a man in the Wanderers Long Room and when the police were called they were instructed by the Guptas to arrest the victim. It is believed he was subsequently deported.
The IPL was moved to South Africa due to security concerns surrounding the Indian general election, and the South African government instituted a requirement that anyone travelling from troubled areas of India to the tournament would have to undergo a 30-day security clearance process. But when all the Guptas’ friends from Uttar Pradesh wanted to come over for the IPL final, this requirement was mysteriously waived for them, allegedly on the instruction of the family.
A leading administrator of the time says “Many cricket administrators colluded with the Guptas, like the politicians. The Guptas controlled the administrators and Gerald Majola, especially, was their man. He was the means to their control and so, when we were fighting him, we were actually fighting the Guptas.”
Little wonder then that, when some board members, with the support of then BCCI president Shashank Manohar, called for clarity as to how the amount of R400 million paid to CSA for the tournament was spent, there was a furious response from other directors and KPMG were prevented from doing an audit.
There is no doubt there was a you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours relationship between CSA and the Guptas. The Guptas even had their family spokesman, Gary Naidoo, sitting on the board.
When Majola was finally removed from office, his successor, Jacques Faul, faced a vicious onslaught from The New Age, the Gupta newspaper.
Board members have often been invited to Saxonwold and in return the Guptas are used to being treated like royalty at cricket matches, demanding their own tables and such like. The Guptas invited the CSA board to 2010 soccer World Cup games and CSA had board meetings in the family’s R50 000 a day penthouse at the luxurious Oyster Box in Umhlanga Rocks. Security measures that have been in place for everyone else attending matches, including top CSA administrators, have been waived for the Guptas because they refused to comply.
No one seems to know for sure how much per annum stadiums like Willowmoore Park, Newlands and Kingsmead received for Sahara [the Guptas’ computer company, they even “borrowed” the name of the more famous Indian version] getting the naming rights; but the talk is it was a negligible amount.
The finger has also been pointed at TV broadcasters, with a schools cricket game at St David’s being shown live in prime time; co-incidentally one of the Gupta sons was playing.
Cricket administrators also speak of the build-up to the IPL when they were told by the Guptas not to bother keeping then sports minister Makhenkesi Stofile informed of proceedings because “we have been to the cabinet kgotla and he won’t be sports minister for long”. That’s another thing Fikile Mbalula has to answer for, given his denials about how he was put in his post in the first place.
The day is hopefully coming soon when South Africa is rid of this parasitic family, whose presence must become as unpopular as e-toll gantries given how they have sucked the blood of the people along with their corrupt accomplices.