Indo-China border tension: will Vivo’s relationship with IPL break?

The heat of the ongoing border dispute between India and China is now reaching the Indian Games. This controversy has become so hot that in India, there is an appeal for the boycott of China-made goods.

Amid this appeal, some people are also demanding that the world’s richest cricket board, the Board of Control for Cricket in India, or BCCI, also break the agreement with Chinese companies. The most popular T20 tournament in the world is IPL’s title sponsor Vivo, which is a Chinese company.

But is it so easy to break contracts with Chinese companies? Vivo has a five-year agreement with the BCCI, which will end in 2022. BCCI receives about Rs 440 crore annually from Vivo Mobile Company. The IPL 2020 was to be held from March 29, which has not been done due to COVID-19.

Earlier, from 2008 to 2012, the title sponsor of IPL was DLF, which used to give 40 crore rupees annually to BCCI.

After this, Pepsi became the title sponsor of IPL from the year 2013 to 2015. BCCI used to get Rs 79.2 crore annually from Pepsi.

After this, Vivo joined the mobile company BCCI. In the year 2016 and 2017, Vivo gave 100 crore rupees annually to BCCI as the title sponsor of IPL.

After this, from the year 2018 to the year 2022, the amount of the title sponsor reached 439.8 crore rupees annually, that is, the IPL has progressed quadrupled day and night.

The IPL became the biggest tournament in the world.

Indian and foreign players are sold at very expensive prices in the auction for the teams involved in the IPL. The IPL sponsors everything from sportspersons and umpires ‘jerseys to water, juices, soft drinks, hats, television broadcasts, spectators at the stadium, players’ hotels, and vehicles to food and drinks.

Apart from the IPL, there is a league of kabaddi, wrestling, boxing, and badminton in India, but the Chinese sponsoring company does not show much enthusiasm in it and even if it shows, it is like cumin in the mouth of a camel compared to cricket. Other sports leagues where viewers and sponsors crave the same, both spectators and sponsors stand by the line for the IPL.

Many Chinese mobile companies do business with success in India and they also have agreements with many players. One such Chinese company, Xiaomi, had an agreement with the Goa Football Club in the Indian Football League in 2018-19. 2

The Indian Olympic Association also has an agreement with a Chinese company, Li-Ning. Li-Ning sponsors the kit of the Indian contingent at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

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The Indian Olympic Association signed a contract with Li-Ning in the month of May 2018. According to the contract, Li-Ning Company will sponsor the player’s shoes and clothes.

Meanwhile, there was news that Secretary of Indian Weightlifting Federation Sahadev Yadav said that all Indian sports associations should oppose Chinese goods and equipment used in sports.

Later, in a conversation with the BBC, he admitted that now the Chinese equipment will not be used in any Sai training center of weightlifting. Sports Authority of India will ask for weightlifting equipment made in all countries other than China.

When the BBC spoke to Ajay Singhania, general secretary of the Badminton Association of India, about the use and opposition of Chinese equipment in badminton, he said that over 80 percent of the goods in India are used by Japanese company Yonex. If someone uses sugar equipment in their personal academy, then what can they do in it.

Now take it to cricket and that too comes on the IPL. So far, the BCCI has made it clear that it is willing to consider its sponsorship policy, but it is not breaking the relationship with Vivo at the moment.

BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal has said that at present the board has not taken any decision to terminate the agreement with Vivo.

If the BBC also wanted to get more information from them, they said that they have already spoken on Twitter, but later they told that now the matter will be looked at by the Governing Council of IPL instead of BCCI. Apart from that, the government will decide.

By the way, Arun Dhumal said that no goods but money are coming from the Chinese company. India’s money is not going out. If the contract is severed from Vivo, it will only benefit China.

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If the contract is broken by the BCCI or the government, then in return, can the Chinese company recover any damages under the legal action, and if so, how much.

In response to this, Arun Dhumal said that the information on the terms of this contract is with the legal committee of the IPL Governing Council. They are considering all these, nothing can be said right now.

On the same issue, President of the Indian Cricket Association, former cricketer and selector Ashok Malhotra says that if the agreement is broken by Vivo, it will harm BCCI more than IPL. The BCCI treasurer has also said this. The annual loss of Rs 440 crore is huge.

IPL is a big game in cricket. Which looks and sells too. Now it will be interesting to see what the government and BCCI decide together. There is still a three-year contract with the Vivo company, if the agreement is broken, the loss of Rs 1320 crore directly to the BCCI from IPL.

Ashok Malhotra further says that due to the circumstances caused by COVID-19, the financial condition of the whole world and India is also serious. In this case, which new sponsor will IPL get.

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Although the boycott of Chinese products is visible on social media, the BCCI treasurer says that we are bringing money and not sending it out.

Ashok Malhotra recalls when he was playing cricket during his time, saying that in 1983, the BCCI had organized a free program with Lata Mangeshkar to give one lakh rupees to the members of the World Cup-winning team.

He says that when he was a BCCI selector from 1993 to 2003, he used to get TA DA only. Had to pay from his pocket to stay in the hotel. Today, the BCCI keeps a hold of the ICC on the basis of money.

When the company does well, everyone gets profit, otherwise, it is a loss. If the contract is broken, apart from the pension and annual contract, all the benefits will be cut.

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So what is the option of Chinese companies? In response, Ashok Malhotra says that it will not be so easy. By the way, Reliance, Tata, Adani are. Earlier, Sahara was a big sponsor, besides cricket, it also promoted hockey and badminton.

Ashok Malhotra also says that there is a saying where there are goods there is rhythm. The goods are with the BCCI but right now the government will have to see. The BCCI cannot do anything without the government.

Madan Lal, another former cricketer, and selector say that such decisions are not taken at all in the international world. Everyone should be restrained right now. The government is also beginning to normalize relations with China on its own behalf.

If Vivo pulled hands or the government and BCCI did, what next?

Regarding this, Madan Lal says that when Vivo got the contract, then there are other companies at number three. It is different now that in this era of recession, you may not get as much money as before.

Amidst all this, sports critic Ayaz Memon says that this issue is very painful. In India these days the sentiments about China are on the rise, and the amount of IPL title sponsor is so big that no one can deny it.

Now whether it is IPL or other tournaments, the interference of Chinese companies in them is very much especially with regard to sponsorship. Currently, two stances are visible in the BCCI.

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One, if the government says to break the contract, then the BCCI has no choice. Secondly, the BCCI cannot break the contract completely in one stroke as it will affect its economic condition.

Ayaz Memon, regarding the legal side, believes that he must have written in terms of the contract, which the government has more responsibility than the BCCI.

Further, Ayaz Memon says that so far there has been no clear direction from the government to boycott Chinese goods. Certain states have terminated some sugar contracts.

Now in sports like shuttle rock in badminton, things like racket where sugar money is very much, it will probably not be removed, unless clear and absolutely direct guidelines are received from the government.

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Why the game itself, Chinese money has been invested in many places in India. What to do and what not to do, the ball is completely in the government’s court.

It is difficult to accurately estimate how much damage will be done to the Indian sports industry due to the complete Chinese sponsors and boycott of Chinese goods.

But on the other hand, if the Vivo mobile company in the form of title sponsor is withdrawn or removed from the IPL, then the BCCI could directly face a blow of around Rs 1340 crore.