Haryana removes Director of Sports over players revenue-sharing controversy

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar - InsideSport

The Haryana State Government has removed Director of Sports and Youth Affairs Jagdeep Singh. The move comes in the wake of a controversy raised by the order from Principal Secretary, Sports and Youth Department, Ashok Khemka’s office. The order had directed the athletes employed with the State Government and it’s affiliate bodies to share one-third of their professional income with the State.

The diktat had invoked widespread criticism and protests, forcing the Manohar Lal Khattar Government to put the order on hold.

The Haryana Government removed Jagdeep Singh as the director of sports and youth affairs on Tuesday night, reports PTI quoting an official. Jagdeep has been replaced by Amit Kumar Agarwal, an official spokesperson said.

On June 8, the Haryana government had courted controversy when it asked sportspersons employed by it to deposit one-third of their earnings from commercial and professional commitments to the state sports council but put the notification on hold after drawing sharp criticism from elite athletes.

A notification issued by Principal Secretary (Sports and Youth Department), Ashok Khemka had said, “One-third of the income earned by the sportsperson from professional sports or commercial endorsements will be deposited with the Haryana State Sports Council. The money shall be used for the development of sports in the state.”

The state government had earlier stirred up a controversy when it decided to reduce the prize money for those Commonwealth Games medal winners from the state who were employed with other departments or states.

The felicitation function planned for the prize money distribution on April 26 had to be eventually cancelled indefinitely when the athletes threatened to boycott it.

The Haryana State Government, facing severe criticism and anger, has put on halt the order, which asked the athletes employed with the State governments to share their professional earnings with the government.

An official notification was issued from the office of the Principal Secretary, Sports and Youth Affairs Department, Government of Haryana, Ashok Khemka. The order stated the sportspersons who work for the state government must hand over at least one-third of their earnings from participating in professional sports events or endorsements deals. The money will be deposited with the Haryana State Sports Council for the development of sports in the State, the order stated further.

The order had invoked severe criticism and backlash from some of the top athletes in the State, including Olympic medallists Yogeshwar Dutt, Sushil Chhetri and Sakshi Malik.

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has subsequently put the order on a halt.

“I have asked for the relevant file of the sports department to be shown to me and the notification dated 30th April to be put on hold till further orders. We are proud of the immense contribution by our sportspersons and I assure them of a just consideration of all issues affecting them (sic),” Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar tweeted after the order provoked widespread outrage.

A big number of international athletes are employed with the Haryana State government or its affiliated departments. Star boxers Vijender Singh and Akhil Kumar, wrestlers Geeta and Babita Phogat, cricketer Joginder Sharma, veteran hockey stars like Sardar Singh and Mamata Kharab are employed with the Haryana State Police department.

Babita Phogat, who won a silver at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, called the order disheartening. “This notification will hamper an athlete’s preparation. How can the government give such an order? We pay taxes over whatever we earn and now this notification to pay one-third,” she had told PTI. “Can the government understand how much sacrifice an athlete and his or families have to make to earn a medal for the country? The Haryana government should immediately take this order back and review it,” she added.

Also Read: Yogeshwar leads athletes war cry as Haryana seeks share in pro income