Euro 2020 Special

New Indian Women’s Franchise Teams Told to Avoid Crypto Links

The BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) has issued firm guidance to the franchises in the new women’s T20 league which details what type of commercial partners they are allowed to have and contravening these rules could lead to punitive measures.

And whilst liaison with fantasy sports is allowed, associations with Crypto currency sites, betting, gambling, and tobacco companies are firmly on the taboo list.

Franchises have been instructed to provide copies of all sponsorship agreements 10 days before the start of the inaugural season on March 4th.

It demonstrates also that the BCCI is determined to exercise an iron grip on the new tournament and is not prepared to allow any individuality among the franchises in how they promote themselves.


Commercial Workbook

Teams have been supplied with a 69-page Commercial Workbook, listing out the dos and don’ts as far as prospective partners are concerned.

Essentially, the BCCI is concerned from the word go to ensure that the new league projects the right image, and that it cannot be seemed to be associated with entities whose activities are in any way questionable.

The ban also extends to surrogate advertising – the use of duplicate images of one product to promote another.


Crypto advertising is banned

Specifically banned are any links to companies that are involved in the cryptocurrency sector. For the avoidance of any doubt, this includes any blockchain service provider, collectables, and fan tokens.

In the interest of balance, it should be noted that blockchain technology is now being used in a wide variety of legitimate industries, and the technology itself has many applications which have nothing to do with the cryptocurrency sector. These include use in sectors like healthcare, finance, real estate, energy, and the media.

The ban on crypto advertising, though, is in line with the Indian government’s position on digital currencies. Their stance is that they are utilised for illegal activity and it levels a flat 30% tax on cryptocurrency gains and also levies a 1% Deduction at Source.

Prior to 2022, the men’s competition had at least cryptocurrency exchange partnerships, but those such associations were banned.

Cryptocurrency companies remain major sponsors of events such as football, tennis, and Formula One racing.

The FTX collapse in November 2022 has again cast doubt on the legitimacy of the sector, with Founder Sam Bankman-Fried facing allegations that he may have committed the biggest corporate fraud in American history. He denies the charges, but if found guilty when his case comes to trial, he could potentially spend the rest of his life in jail.

There are an estimated 115 million cryptocurrency investors in India, but any hopes they may have had of a softening of the government stance on the sector were dashed when they were specifically excluded from the national budget for 2023.

And with the current Indian finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman – an advocate for a global regulatory approach to digit assets – things are unlikely to change for the better soon as far as they are concerned.


Fantasy sports are allowed

Although any links with betting or gambling sites are also not allowed, fantasy sports are not subject to the same prohibitions. This follows a ruling by the Supreme Court of India that they should be treated more as a test of skills rather than luck.

This is arguably an anomalous position given that many leading betting sites now allowing betting on fantasy sports. Indeed, during the pandemic when there was no actual sports activity on which to bet for a while, gambling on fantasy sports soared.


Potential punishments

In their guidelines, it is made clear by the BCCI that any breach of the rules on Clothing & Equipment will be subject to disciplinary action.

What this means in practice has not been spelled out, although potential penalties could include a points deduction, a cap in a team’s budget for next year, or potentially the stripping of the rights to own a franchise.

In practice, this is unlikely to happen. There is already a long queue of interested parties from sectors that the BCCI considers more legitimate for franchises not to have to potentially incur their wrath by hooking up with a crypto company.




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