Tuesday, 18 November 2014 00:39
By Ashwin Hemmathagama - Our Lobby Correspondent
Sex scandals, mismanagement, corruption and the kith and kin of the regime are destroying Sri Lankan cricket as well as rugby, Opposition lawmakers alleged in Parliament yesterday during the Budgetâ€™s Committee Stage debate over the Ministry of Sports.
Moving the debate, Opposition MP Nalin Bandara Jayamaha accused the Government and sports minister of â€śruiningâ€ť the countryâ€™s sports.
â€śWe are getting ready for the World Cup next year but the recent Indian match brought the playersâ€™ morale down to zero. The issues are the internal conflicts, greed for money and mismanagement found at Sri Lanka Cricket. No efforts were taken to develop the players. When the IPL is there, Sri Lanka Cricket takes the players somewhere else not allowing them to make money. But when Sri Lanka Cricket gets money they just act blindly, neglecting the country and the players. Nishantha Ranatunga and all players should take responsibility for the recent failure,â€ť he said.
â€śCorruption is everywhere. Bribery has gone to the extent of sex. Sri Lanka Womenâ€™s Cricket has gone to the extent of sex bribes. This is the first time we have heard about sex bribes in sports.â€ť
In response, UPFA MP Shantha Bandara said: â€śYou have to remember the fact that President Rajapaksa illuminated the country. Maybe some things would have happened but parents should not be scared to send their daughters for sports for fear of sex bribes. Our Government allocated Rs. 10,000 million for sports. Rural development is also taking place where sport is given priority. In Kilinochchi a sports complex was launched recently.â€ť
The UNPâ€™s Sujeewa Senasinghe took the Government to task for letting the fate of Sri Lankan rugby fall into the hands of three youths who were â€śhighly-connected and powerfulâ€ť, something which has scared the minister as well.
â€śWe know that the minister is trying to do something for sports but corruption has gone overboard and invisible hands are in action. The sex bribe scandal has reached the international arena. We took part in the recent Indian tournament without any practice. The (SLC) secretary is the chairman of a company which received the television broadcast rights of the recent tournament. There is a conflict of interest. Who is controlling rugby? There are known youths controlling it. Other players are scared to tackle. You were unable to take action having caught prostitutes brought inside the Sports Ministry. Do you know that the whole of Sri Lankan rugby is running on banned drugs and steroids? I donâ€™t want to mention the names. If you want to keep rugby safe please donâ€™t allow three youths to make decisions on the sport,â€ť Serasinghe said.
UPFA MP and Sri Lanka Cricket Selection Committee Chairman Sanatha Jayasuriya said he should take part of the blame, not the minister, for the recent failure.
â€śThe minister can only appoint the best coaches and officers. I know he has done that. I as Cricket Selection Committee Chairman was given a free hand by him. India invited us to play a few matches. I donâ€™t agree that we didnâ€™t prepare. Our players are professionals and they undergo training on a daily basis. We wanted to test our new players. If we didnâ€™t go, another team, including England, would have played India.
We didnâ€™t expect to win all five matches. We knew we would lose, going on the history of our performances there. So the minister should not be blamed but I take part of the blame,â€ť Jayasuriya stated.
Joining the debate, DNA MP and former Sri Lankan Cricket Captain Arjuna Ranathunga said: â€śYou may have escaped the law but you canâ€™t lie to your conscience. Sport has come so low. You have failed to recognise the Paralympics winners. We have come to a state where we are unable to maintain cricket grounds. We should be thankful to the Ministry of Defence for maintaining them.
â€śIn Sri Lanka we raise our girls with care. If sex bribes took place in womenâ€™s cricket it should be investigated. Most of them are from villages.
They are innocent. They donâ€™t get money. They only get $ 100 per game. It is our responsibility to look after them. The minister should be responsible. You have failed to protect the players.â€ť