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Governance of Indian Sports Body

Submitted by-Kushal Gulati

Governance of Indian Sports Body-


The project lights up key issues encompassing the present model of games administration in India. Promote, it tries to analyze the explanations for reliably poor execution of Indian competitors in the Olympic sports and the part that the legislature can play keeping in mind the end goal to change the wretched circumstance that wins at the occasion. Given the development of the Indian economy and the nation’s young socioeconomics, India is quick developing as a favored setting for major wearing occasions, for example, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games furthermore, World Cups of Hockey and Cricket. Prominent occasions, for example, these pull in a ton of consideration from around the globe. In any case, excepting a couple of prevalent games like cricket and shooting, our nation’s execution in the greater part of these occasions keeps on being terrible. Indeed, even a lot of open and private interest in games has been not able accomplish any significant change. These disappointments are regularly credited to the model of games administration in India. Furthermore, money related abnormalities in games alliances have offered belief to this view. Wearing execution is regularly connected with national pride and these systemic issues have marked it extremely in the later past. In the light of this, it is intriguing to take a gander at this subject from the structure of law and administration.


State involvement in sports in India was institutionalized at a much later date from Independence. It was after the 1982 Asian games that the department of sports was transformed into the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports. Much later in 2000, these departments were converted into a Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS).

The Indian sports governance infrastructure consists of two separate bodies managing sports in the country: The MYAS on and the IOA. As per the Olympics charter, the IOA should be an autonomous body and free from the administrative control of the Government of India. The Indian Olympic Association is the body responsible for selecting athletes to represent India at the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and other international competitions.[1]Its members include 38 National Sports Federations (NSFs) that are responsible for the development of their respective games in the country. Out of these 38 NSFs, sports and disciplines represented by 26 NSFs featured in the recently concluded Rio 2016 Olympic Games.[2]

Given India’s economy and the country’s young demographics, India is fast emerging as a preferred venue for major sporting events such as Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and World Cups of Hockey and Cricket. High profile events such as these attract a lot of attention from around the world. However, barring a few popular sports like cricket and shooting, our country’s performance in most of these events continues to be dismal. Even a large amount of public and private investment in sports has been unable to achieve any substantial improvement. These failures are often attributed to the model of sports governance in India. Allegations of nepotism, fiefdom, unaccountability and financial irregularities in sports federations have given credence to this view. Sporting performance is often associated with national pride and these systemic issues have dented it severely in the recent past. The debates have been raging in favor of and against government intervention to put things in place. In the light of all this, it is interesting to look at this topic from the framework of law and governance.[3]

However, the Association receives support in the form of finance and infrastructure from thegovernment and hence has a nominee of the government among its variousranks. The federalgovernment too has been continuously offering a nominal amount to the sports sector in India in training, coaching, infrastructure, grants and initiatives. Yet the performance ofsportsperson does not correspond to this spending.

The question that arises is that why should the State be involved? One constant theme in the evolution of sports over the past century is that it has become a means to demonstrate a nation’s supremacy.[4] As an entity dedicated to public welfare, the State has a definite interest in the promotion and governance of sports. Closer home, we are a country of one billion aspiring people trying to prove our supremacy to the world, and sport is increasingly being seen as a medium to express it.


In the early 1950s, the Federal Government created the All India Council of Sports (AICS) to apprehend the declining standards of sports in the country. An ad-hoc committee was formed to support the AICS in 1958. It was responsible for recommending a Central Training Institute that would offer standardized coaching facilities. The National Institute of Sports (NIS) in came up at Patiala‟s Moti Bagh Palace in 1961.[5]Entry 33 in the seventh schedule of the Indian Constitution provides that the state as well as the Centre shall make and enact laws on regulation, registration and recognition of associations involved in sports. As early as 1988, a proposed amendment of the federal constitution tried to accommodate sports in the concurrent list, in which the central government could also share equal responsibility. This amendment bill was withdrawn in 2009. The efforts to improve sports in India by introducing changes in the policy domain includes: National Sports Policy 1984, National Sports Policy 2001, a Comprehensive National Policy 2007 and a Draft National Sports Development Bill 2011 and a Sports Development Code 2011. The 2011 Bill sought to introduce transparency in sports administration in India and to make it open to public scrutiny.[6]

Even though the government spends a significant amount of money to facilitate the coaching and training of sportspersons, not much is realized from this spending and that the state’s monopoly control over the sector has not produced much results. Lack of modern technology has also been cited as a crucial need in improving these conditions.[7] Lack of quality infrastructure and training facilities.

Current Sports Model in India –

The existing model of governance of sports in India has two wings, One in which the government bodies are controlled by Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS). This wing has institutions like the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and other institutions working towards promoting sports training under SAI. The other wing has the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). State Olympic Associations (SOAs) and the national and state Sports Federations (NSFs and SFs) come under the IOA. However, the MYAS provides financial and infrastructural support to the National and State Sports Federations and indirectly control these federations through political representations.

In accordance with the Olympic Charter, which restricts the government influence of sports federations, the sports bodies in India are autonomous bodies. While the IOA is the umbrella body under which all the NSFs and SOAs conduct various sporting events in the country, government bodies operate under MYAS, playing a support role such as training and infrastructure management. In addition to this, there are federations for non-Olympic sports such as Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for cricket. These federations are directly affiliated to their respective international boards. Similar to the Olympic Charter, government intervention is restricted by the charter of their respective federations.

All sporting bodies are registered as societies under the Societies Registration Act of 1860. These bodies are recipients of government aid in multiple forms ranging from direct financial assistance to indirect tax subsidies in the form of tax benefits (as in the case of BCCI). In order to receive direct financial aid, a body is supposed to have a government appointed observer who oversees the internal processes such as utilization of funds, etc.  Almost all the sports federations have eminent politicians or retired bureaucrats elected as their office bearers with the anticipation of utilizing their political power in various matters.

Annual and Special General meetings held by the IOA decide on various aspects of sports in India. The voting rights in these meetings are given to members of NSFs as well as to national federations for indigenous games in India. Also, Olympic associations at the state and the Union Territory levels, members of the IOC as well as representatives from Athletics Commissions have the right to vote in these meetings. Out of 72 National Federations and State Olympic Associations, 38 had presidents who were politicians in 2012.[8]This process is an old trend that has continued for decades.

Political representation should have made these Federations more accountable, and open to challenges and replacements to the leadership over time. Since this has not been happening, it appears that most of these federations have been reduced to political fiefdoms.[9] This has decisive effects on a lot of factors including the composition of teams in a sporting event. The incentive for most of the politicians seem to be the publicity that they receive from sports in major events held across the country and outside.[10]

Issues with the Current Sports Model

The biggest concern regarding these bodies so far has been a complete lack of checks and balances. In the pretext of autonomy, they have been allowed to function in any manner. In any sport there are two key shareholders i.e. sportsperson and the spectator. The most important job of a sports federation is to facilitate grooming and identification of sporting talent and providing a platform for their interactions with the spectators. It may sound simple but it is one of the most complex tasks that involve activities ranging from creating sporting infrastructure and proving training facilities to promoting sports through platforms like sport events. The federations have generally fallen short of public expressions and have failed to carry out their jobs. It has been largely attributed to the way they are governed.

The current sports model faces accountability issues such as that of having unlimited discretionary powers and also there is no transparency in the decision-making.[11] The irregularities by the revenue management are also amass. There are administrative issues relating to sponsorships and media rights entertainment. Discrimination based on sex, religion etc and doping and drug related issue is very popular among sportsperson nowadays. Unauthorized betting has also caused a lot of havoc.[12] Developmental issues relating to those of infrastructure development and cultural development are still there.

Optimum Model for India

Given the diverse cultural heritage of India, it cannot adopt the Chinese model which involves a lot of indirect state activity neither can it the US model which is completely open. Operating under the supervision of the Prime Minister of India, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports shall constitute an independent sports regulator known as Sports Regulatory Authority of India (SRAI). Though SRAI will operate under MYAS, it will still have an independent role. Under SRAI the following will operate:

  • Sports Authority of India (SAI): It will oversee the training of the athletes and coaches and also be responsible for the sports infrastructure development. The sports universities and schools would also function under SAI.
  • Sports Development and Events: This will focus on planning, funding, supporting and serving relationships with national sporting organizations. Organizing. Sports events at district, state, national and international level would be the primary responsibility of this arm. The existing IOA and other Sports Federations would report to it. The state sports federations would have a dual affiliation towards the SOA as well as their NSFs.
  • Corporate Functions: The primary tasks of this arm would be for marketing, sponsorships, finances and business aspects of the sport and will support all divisions of the SRAI to enable it to deliver on its strategic plan.

Each of the three will have to submit Financial Statements, Annual Reports, Annual Operational Plan and Report on Compliance to SRAI, which will in turn submit a consolidated report to the ministry. The entire structure should be implemented by bringing legislation by the parliament.


There must be presence of powerful and defined sports legislation in India covering all the nuances of sports and giving no arbiter powers to any authority. The Sports Development Bill, 2011 and Sports Development Code, 2011 was an attempt where the National Olympic Committee (NOC) was made responsible for the conduct of National Games every 2 years and fair and transparent elections be held every 4 years. Some other relevant points recommended were the retirement age for members as 70 years for office bearers, inclusion of athletes in decision-making process, ensuring that 25%of athletes hold the membership and voting powers. Also it recognized the establishment of National Anti Doping Agency (NADA).[13] It also stated that All sports federations are required to publish details such as a list of selection basis and the manner of selection, details of the coaching camps, dates and list of the participants, list of athletes selected amongst others on its website. They are also required to get their accounts audited and published on their website.

In the absence of a strong legislation, there will be no efficacy in the functions of the sports authorities. Also, there might be absolute political intervention, which can be easily checked with a well-drafted legislation reducing anomalies. The sporting universe has time and again tormented by numerous scandals and scams.[14] The Olympic Games Bidding Scandal, the recent IPL scam and allegations of sexual harassment by the Indian Women’s Hockey Team have alarmed the nation.

In the context of sports, one major identified problem is the use of performance enhancing drugs. This problem still needs to be addressed effectively, despite the creation of NADA in the country. National Anti Doping Agency NADA deals with adopting and implementing anti-doping rules and policies which conform to the World Anti-Doping Code, cooperates with other anti-doping organizations and promotes anti-doping research and education.

The laws of competition should be completely in consonance with the sports law framework. Lack of an ideal competitive atmosphere for all the teams is an irregularity. India’s Competition Act 2002 holds void any agreement, which creates anything contrary to fair and free competition and involves abuse of dominance. In this respect, issue of grant of broadcast rights of sporting events is yet another contentious issue. Nonetheless, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting which is the pertinent authority can be subject to Right to Information in this connection.


There is a close association of sports with national pride and the kind of influence it has on the psyche of the nation, a role for the State is urgent in sports governance. However the role has to be subtle so as to not violate the Olympic charter. The change has to begin from the primary education system should be revamped to build a sporting culture in the country. The state and its entities must provide atleast basic, bare minimum facility at the grassroot level, in villages and small towns, so that those who want to play are encouraged to come out and play. The quality of infrastructure can be scaled up at major towns and regional centres are made available for those who are serious at taking their sport professionally. Education of the athletes must be on the priority list- they should be made aware about the right use of the sports medicine. Also the attitude towards the sports administration has to undergo a major change in India with a strong dose of professionalism. The ideal scenario would be achieved when the players and the spectators are so empowered that it is impossible for the sports administrators simply ignore them.

References and Endnote –


[1] Justice Mukul Mudgal (Retd.), 2010, ‘Law and Sports in India: Developmental Issues and Challenges’


[1] Indian Olympic Association, Available at: .

[2] Case for Comprehensive Sports Law, The Hindu, May 17th, 2011, Available at: .

[3] Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, US, 1998, Available on:

[4] Insider’s Perspective, Justice Mukul Mudgal (Retd.), June 23rd, 2011, Available at:

[5] Aabhas Sharma, “The politics of sports”, Business Standard, December 25, 2010, Available at: 110122500051_1.html .

[6] National Sports Bill 2011 (draft), Ministry of Youth Affairs & sports, Govt. of India.

[7] Insider’s Perspective, Justice Mukul Mudgal (Retd.), June 23rd, 2011, Available at: .

[8] Avalok Langer, “Indian Sports and the Political Players”,, December 13, 2012, Issue 51, Volume 9, Available at:

[9] Case for Comprehensive Sports Law, The Hindu, May 17th, 2011,

Available at:

[10] Neethu Mohan, “Politicians shouldn‟t head sports bodies”, Education Insider, January 5, 2014, Available at: .

[11] [1]“Gaming Indian Sports, Can we rescue Indian sports from the vice grip of politicians and capital?” Economic & Political Weekly June 15, 2013.

[12] Legalize sports betting, The Times of India, June 7th, 2012, Available at:

[13] National Sports Bill 2011 (draft), Ministry of Youth Affairs & sports, Govt. of India, Oct 14th, 2011.

[14] Sports Authority of India, Available at: