Indian cricket fans' hopes of seeing the second biggest ICC event in the form of Champions Trophy seem to have taken a blow as the International Cricket Council has started looking for alternative venues as they look to take away the hosting rights from India. The reason, however, isn't over the participation of Pakistan in the event but over the subject of tax exemption.
The ICC, in a meeting on Friday, expressed its concern about the absence of a tax exemption in India, which it said was a "standard practice for major sporting events” around the world.
The ICC has specifically put across the fact that when countries host global sporting events like the Olympics, FIFA World Cup, World Athletics Championships and the UEFA Champions League final, are given special dispensation because of the sort of impact they have on the local economy.
"The Board expressed their concern around the absence of a tax exemption from the Indian Government for ICC events held in India despite ongoing efforts from both the ICC and BCCI to secure the exemption which is standard practice for major sporting events around the world,” said ICC in a media release.
"The Board agreed that ICC management, supported by the BCCI will continue the dialogue with the Indian Government but in the meantime directed ICC management to explore alternative host countries in a similar time zone for the ICC Champions Trophy 2021,” added cricket’s governing body.
This means that India could lose the tournament’s hosting rights to neighbouring countries such as Sri Lanka or Bangladesh.
Despite attempts by the BCCI, ICC board has continued their search for different hosting nations considering if tax exemptions are not provided, they could get losses of about $100-125 million.
"The Indian government used to give tax exemption to the ICC till the 2011 World Cup,” a BCCI official told The Times of India. "However, in the case of the 2016 World Twenty20, which was held in India, the goverment refused to give any tax exemption. The ICC and its media rights holder Star Sports made repeated requests in this regard, but the tax authorities didn’t budge. Star Sports thus had to pay 10% TDS on its media rights income for the event.”
However, another unnamed BCCI official told The Indian Express that this was "nothing but an attempt to pressurise the Indian government” and warned that the ICC "may regret taking any decision that may be detrimental to BCCI’s interests”.
The same official then targeted ICC chairman Shashank Manohar, who in his capacity as BCCI president in 2009 had moved the Indian Premier League to South Africa in 2009. "The comment made by him then, that the IPL was shifted out due to the attitude of the Indian government, was made against the will of the BCCI’s Working Committee and was one of many blunders of Mr Manohar that cost the BCCI deeply,” the official said.
"It would be another blunder by another organisation being headed by the same man to unnecessarily rub the Indian government the wrong way, especially after the support that the government extended during the conduct of the ICC World T20 in 2016,” the official added.
The final decision on whether India will host the Champions Trophy will be taken by the end of 2019.