BCCI should investigate Halal meat controversy; Take action against culprits

A few days ago social media was flooded with posts after the news emerged that BCCI had ordered only Halal meat to be served as part of the diet plan to all the cricket players. There was an outcry from several people who were furious that players were instructed to consume only Halal meat and nothing else.

BCCI woke up, though late, to the fact that this issue was creating a big controversy and dividing fans. So the organisation issued a clarification. The BCCI Treasurer Arun Dhumal gave a statement which read:

“This diet plan has never been discussed and will not be enforced. I don’t know when this decision was taken or if it was. As far as I know, we never issued any guidelines related to diet plans. As far as food habits are concerned, it is the individual choice of players, BCCI has no role in it,” Dhumal said while dismissing the reports as baseless and unfounded.

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But what is surprising is that how come this rumour came up at all. It was never an issue in earlier years. This correspondent had traveled with cricket teams, footballers, volleyball players and other athletes to different tournaments. The media persons as well as players, coaches, referees and officials ate together in the same dining room. Nobody started rumours about the food that was on the table.

If there was any doubt, the team manager would make a discreet enquiry or two. Or put in a friendly request to change the diet. Everything was done quietly behind the scenes. Never was any such issue allowed to snowball into public discourse.

But now some mischief makers pushed these bits of fake news to set the rumour mills working. There could be a sinister motive behind it all.

Under the prevailing atmosphere in the country, any such rumour will definitely lead to a large scale protest from Far Right groups. Then under that pretext, people with vested political interests may compel and arm twist the BCCI to issue a direction banning Halal meat from its diet plans. That would create a great hindrance to Muslim players.

So it is vital that the BCCI should investigate and get to the bottom of this affair. It could turn out that the rumour was begun by saboteurs within the BCCI itself. The intention could be to cause friction within the organisation. For, as the saying goes, “Where there is smoke, there is fire.” It is imperative that the BCCI should make sure that its house remains clean. Otherwise more such rumours on a variety of topics may be floated in the future with more damaging results creating disunity within the team.

“It is a pity that sport is being dragged into this unnecessary controversy,” said former Indian football captain Victor Amalraj while speaking to siasat.com. He is in the best position to comment on this issue. Amalraj not only led India but also captained all the three big elite clubs of Kolkata namely Mohammedan Sporting, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.

Having played in Andhra, Bengal and also abroad, he has experienced a huge variety of cultures, customs and food habits in different parts of India and the world. Moreover, he was also closely involved with cricket and was a team manager for Hyderabad’s Ranji trophy team. He knows cricketers and administrators very closely.

“When I went to Kolkata from Hyderabad and joined Mohammedan Sporting, I found that in their mess they were serving food very similar to what we were used to in Hyderabad and Secunderabad. We all ate the same food. There was never any issue. From Mohammedan Sporting, I went to East Bengal and there I found that fish was the main thing on their menu. After a while, I got adjusted. We players are interested in playing our sport. Not the food menus,” said Amalraj.

“So I would request all such people who begin these dangerous rumours to leave sport alone. Players need to focus on their game and keep their minds free from outside tension. If such controversies come up, they will be disturbed and it will affect their game. All their mental and physical energies should be devoted to sport only and nothing else. Coaches and administrators should ensure that such rumours do not get into the minds of the players and cause anguish or lower their morale,” concluded Amalraj.

Abhijit Sen Gupta is a seasoned journalist who writes on Sports and various other subjects.

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