The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is the world’s richest cricket council and provides a lion’s share of funds to the International Cricket Council as well. The Indian Premier League, or IPL, is a series of T20 cricket matches played between regional teams of India. The league is watched by millions of people worldwide. As such, to have a Chinese title sponsor for this indigenous tournament at a time when India is engaged in disengagement talks with the paper dragon would run contrary to the fury which prevails within the country against China, for its misadventures in Eastern Ladakh and killing of Indian soldiers.
News of BCCI retaining its title sponsor – Vivo India, in such an atmosphere, caused a huge uproar on social media. Vivo is a Chinese smartphone manufacturer, which has signed an airtight contract with the BCCI for five years, until 2022, to fund the IPL as the tournament’s title sponsor. In 2017, the Chinese company had signed Rs. 2, 199 crore contract with BCCI to sponsor IPL for five years. As such, the company coughs up approximately 440 crore rupees every year for the same.
However, reports suggest that following massive uproar against China funding the IPL, Vivo India is all set to walk out of the contract, at least for this year. Informing the same, an IPL franchise told seven others about the development. On Monday, the aforementioned franchise took it upon itself to inform others of Vivo’s impending exit, given the hostility towards Chinese brands that has enveloped India, post the border scuffle between the two countries in June.
The BCCI is said to be “unhappy” with the communication that took place on Monday. Although, it said that it has taken the anti-China sentiments of the Indian cricket fans in absolute seriousness and is in the middle of a series of meetings with the central government to convey/receive the final word on Vivo’s presence in the IPL, this year. Sources from the board told TOI, “Was it not the franchise’s duty to consult with BCCI first?” TOI also reported on the BCCI being ‘miffed’ with the developments that have been taking place.
The BCCI is now getting the headache of finding a suitable title sponsor for at least this year’s tournament, which is all set to kickstart next month in UAE. While finding a sponsor willing to contribute funds in the amount which Vivo did will be impossible with one month to go for the league to start. As per the sources, if any sponsor willing to fund even 50 per cent of what Vivo did is found, it would be considered as an achievement. Anything above 50 per cent, they say, would be a “shot in the arm”.
While the immediate reason for Vivo India’s self-initiated exit from the IPL is not known, it can majorly be attributed to the growing aversion of Indians towards the Chinese brands. Chinese companies are increasingly being perceived as forbidden within India, and in such an environment, for Vivo to have its name displayed all over during IPL would not align well with its business interests in the country. While in the previous IPL tournaments, Vivo’s name being displayed all around was a huge advertising victory for the company. Such dynamics no longer hold in the India of 2020. Now, the increasing resentment of Indians towards China and its brands has caused Vivo to withdraw as a title sponsor of the Indian Premier League.