May 1999

Photograph of the Month - May 1999

Hockey just ain't Cricket - Media

In this year of the World Cup Cricket, which takes place from May 14 - June 20, let's pause for a moment to understand the vice-like grip that cricket has in India, to the detriment of all other sports. We will examine the impact of cricket in 3 core areas - media, money and marketing.

In a criminal neglect, ESPN-Star treats hockey worse than Ten Pin Bowling, Table Tennis or even Badminton. While these events are shown weekly, ESPN has not telecast the last 2 Indo-Pak hockey series, the last 3 Azlan Shah tournaments and even the 1998 Asian Games Hockey where India won the gold medal. Even the 1999 Champions Trophy for the world's top 6 teams will be shown almost entirely in delay.

And now we come to the privileged game of cricket .....

ESPN and Star Sports have jointly won the rights to telecast all 42 matches of the World Cup. ESPN-Star has priced its advertising spots at $5,000 to $7,000 per 30 second spot. With each 100 over match getting 70 - 90 minutes of advertisements (between overs, fall of wicket, drinks breaks, etc.), ESPN-Star is likely to generate advertising revenue close to $143 million. 70% of the advertising time has already been sold out, with the major buyers being Pepsi, LG, Samsung, Bajaj, Hindustan Lever, Maruti and Reid and Taylor.

ESPN-Star began their run up for the World Cup from November itself. They hosted parties in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore in an ambience that evoked memories of Lord's. Film stars were roped in to appear in promotionals.

ESPN-Star will telecast two half-hour bulletins every day from May 1. A studio has been specially set up in Singapore, apart from one in London, for this purpose. There will also be specially packaged programs like "Magic Moments," "World's Best XI," "Master Blaster," "Spectacular Catches," "World Cup Cities," "Most Valuable Players" and "World Cup Superstars."

Even the government-owned Doordarshan has jumped into the fray, by bagging terrestrial rights to telecast all of India's matches, apart from the semi-finals and finals. The same Doordarshan totally ignored all of India's matches in last year's World Cup Hockey and Commonwealth Games Hockey. Asian Games Hockey finals was telecast on Doordarshan only through the efforts of a Mumbai-based sports marketing firm - Nimbus Communications.

Even in the United States where cricket is not all a recognized sport, the sole marketer of the World Cup (Kelly Broadcasting Services) is planning to telecast all 42 matches, for a package deal of $300. That same marketer completely ignored last year's World Cup Hockey, which at least is a recognized NCAA women's sport here. Kelly Broadcasting Services reportedly paid $5 million for the North American television rights.

The brochure produced by ESPN-Star to promote the World Cup Cricket says, "It doesn't get bigger than this." It will, if you only try!

Hockey just ain't Cricket - Money

There is a limited amount of money for non-cricket sportsmen in India, with only football breaking out of the shackles of cricket successfully, after the inception of the National Football League.

The International Management Group (IMG), which represents the world's number 1 players of many disciplines (Tiger Woods, Martina Hingis, Annika Sorenstam, et al) has signed up 3 cricketers for lucrative endorsement deals - Anil Kumble, Ajay Jadeja and Hrishikesh Kanitkar. Football star Bhaichung Bhatia is the only non-cricketer to be signed up by IMG.

Pepsi has been endorsed by Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, Mohammed Azharuddin, Vinod Kambli, Rahul Dravid, Ajay Jadeja and Ajit Agarkar. Coke has been endorsed by Saurav Ganguly and Javagal Srinath.

In this year's Pepsi Cup triangular series, the Man of the Series, Saurav Ganguly, received a brand new Fiat Siena car. The same Pepsi also sponsored the 9 match Indo-Pak hockey series, held a couple of months earlier. The Pepsi Man of the Series (Indian leg) was awarded to the Pakistani captain Dr. Atif Bashir. He received a token amount of Rs. 20,000.

In the inaugural Coca Cola Cup in Sharjah, held in November 1998, India picked up $40,000 as the winner's cheque defeating Zimbwabe in the final. Indian skipper Mohammed Azharuddin won a Mercedes Benz for being the leading run scorer in the tournament. A month prior to the Coca Cola Cup, when the National Hockey Championship for women took place in Chennai, the player of the tournament, Sita Gossein of the Railways, won a cycle as an award.

Hockey has a long way to catch up with cricket, if it needs to attract the youngsters back into the game.

Hockey just ain't Cricket - Marketing

In 1996 when both the World Cup Cricket as well as Champions Trophy were hosted in India, there was not a shred of comparison between the money spent by advertisers on cricket and on hockey.

This was repeated in 1998, when Europe played host to both the World Cup Soccer and World Cup Hockey within a month of each other. Yet again, marketing folks in India went crazy over World Cup Soccer, while ignoring World Cup Hockey.

Only 12 countries in the world play cricket seriously. However, the World Cup is being trumpeted as the second-biggest television event after the World Cup Soccer. Beneath all this hype and hoopla, the marketers should not forget that the Olympics is a far bigger sporting event, which is truly global in nature.

When it comes to cricket, we begin with the cola wars. While reading this, keep in the background the colossal waste of money, talent and priorities for this non-intellectual exercise of marketing carbonated water.

Pepsi sponsors the Pepsi Cup (India - Pakistan - Sri Lanka triangular series) and is an associate sponsor of the Sahara Cup (India - Pakistan series) till 2001. Coca Cola has title sponsorship rights to 6 one-day tournaments in Sharjah and the United Arab Emirates for the Coca-Cola Cup. Recently it tied up with the Asian Cricket Council to sponsor the first ever five-day Asian Cricket Championship.

For the 1999 World Cup, Pepsi has paid Rs. 140 million ($3.33 million) to be the Global Partner (main sponsor) of the World Cup Cricket. The ICC, like FIFA and the IOC, has decided not to give any firm naming rights to its flagship event.

Pepsi is spending 3 times that amount ($9 million) to promote its brand, including a large number of television spots. Coca Cola has promised to match the Pepsi commercials airtime to airtime, second to second, varitey to variety.

Just as Coca Cola toured Europe with the football World Cup last year, Pepsi took the cricket World Cup to 14 different cities in India, as well as to cities in Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The Pepsi tour began on March 6 and ended on April 24, with each unveiling ceremony being accompanied by a pop music concert and a laser show.

Many companies are running contests with the winners getting all-expense paid trips to England to watch India's matches. So popular is one such contest - run by biscuit maker Britannia - that the company's sales have zoomed, with people scrambling to buy its products to be eligible to participate.

Associate sponsor Samsung is spending Rs. 200 million ($4.8 million) on promotions and has signed on Kapil Dev to endorse its brand. Philips is spending Rs. 100 million ($2.4 million) in a branding exercise involving cricketer Kapil Dev and video jockey Cyrus Broacha.

Associate sponsor LG is spending Rs. 80 million (about $1.9 million) on advertising and sales promotion for the six television brands it has launched. LG has also roped in Mohinder Amarnath, Roger Binny and Madan Lal to escort more than 1000 people to the World Cup.

Aiwa has launched the "Hum Honge Kaamayab" contest, to return cash ranging from Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 6,000 to buyers of its audio-video equipment if India wins the World Cup. Aiwa has promised a Mercedes Benz car to each member of the Indian cricket team if it wins the World Cup.

Cox and Kings, the official World Cup travel agent, has sold out the limited number of World Cup packages (catering to 1000 fans) that it devised. The package offers accomodation in a first-class London hotel and a drive to the stadiums where the matches are held.

Pakistan Break their Jinx and Win Azlan Shah

1999 Azlan Shah Champions

Photograph : S. S. Kanesan of The Star of Malaysia

It was 6th time lucky for Pakistan who won the 9th Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament, held at Kuala Lumpur from April 2 - April 10. The competing countries were Canada, Germany, hosts Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Korea.

In their impressive victory march to the finals, Pakistan trounced Canada 6-3, South Korea 6-2, New Zealand 5-2, Malaysia 5-1 and Germany 4-2.

The other finalists South Korea lost to Germany 3-4, lost to Pakistan 2-6, beat Canada 5-2, beat New Zealand 5-1 and beat Malaysia 3-1.

On the last day of the league stage, with Pakistan already in the finals, 3 other teams had a chance to enter the finals - Germany, Canada and South Korea. Germany needed a draw to qualify, but they lost to Pakistan. Canada needed to win by 9 goals, but they lost to New Zealand. South Korea stayed true to the script, won their match against Malaysia and entered the finals by virtue of better goal difference.

The point totals at the end of the league stage were:

          P W D L GF GA PTS 
Pakistan  5 5 0 0 26 10 15
Korea     5 3 0 2 18 14  9
Germany   5 3 0 2 14 12  9
Canada    5 2 0 3 11 16  6
N.Zealand 5 2 0 3 10 16  6
Malaysia  5 0 0 5  7 18  0

In the finals, backed by a vociferous crowd of 2,000 Pakistani migrant workers based in Malaysia, Pakistan beat South Korea 3-1. Both teams were tied 1-1 at half-time. Sohail Abbas, Saqlain Mohammed and Dr. Atif Bashir scored for Pakistan, while Yeo Woon-Ka scored for South Korea.

Beaten twice by South Korea in the last six months (Champions Tropy and Asian Games, both in 1998), Pakistan thus exacted sweet revenge against their Korean rivals by beating them twice in this tournament. This was the first ever tournament victory for a Pakistan senior team in Malaysia, and the first international tournament victory for Pakistan in the last 5 years.

Germany beat Canada 3-2 to finish 3rd. Malaysia won their only match of the tournament, beating New Zealand 2-1 via a golden goal to finish 5th.

Pakistan's Hockey Sensation

Sohail Abbas

Photo courtesy The New Straits Times

Twenty two-year old wonderkid Sohail Abbass had a push that travelled faster than any player's hit at the 9th Azlan Shah Cup Hockey Tournament. It was no wonder then that Sohail Abbas emerged as the leading goal-scorer of the Azlan Shah tournament with 12 goals in 6 matches, and named the Player of the Tournament.

Sohail scored at least once in every game for Pakistan, confirming that he is Asia's best penalty corner specialist, and maybe the best in the world. Out of Pakistan's 29 goals, Sohail with 12 goals scored more than 40% of Pakistan's goals.

Habib Bank Ltd., his employers, announced a cash award of Rs 100,000 for hockey star Sohail Abbas for his outstanding performance in the Azlan Shah Cup Hockey Tournament. This is in addition to the Rs. 25,000 presented to him for being the Player of the Series for the 1999 Indo-Pak hockey series.

One has to see to believe what Sohail can do when presented with a dead ball. He has perfected the art of shielding the ball from onrushing defenders with his body, and then unleashing a strong scoop which leaves the goalkeeper standing rooted.

Against Malaysia, where he scored from two penalty corners, the ball sounded the board before the defenders could barely move.

Although Pakistan have possessed world class penalty corner hitters like Khalid Bashir among their ranks, they have never had a pusher before. Sohail aims to be the first and already he has made a name for himself.

Although he was gifted with booming pushes, nobody noticed him until he made the senior squad and started practicing three hours a day, just pushing and flicking.

"My idol is Bram Lomans from Holland. He inspired me with his big pushes," signs off this powerful youngster from Karachi. 

By Jagjit Singh of The New Straits Times

Hockey is Losing its Fan Base

Ticket Express, the ticketing and marketing agents of the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament held an 'Attend & Win' contest, open to anyone who bought a tournament souvenir programme costing RM10. Fans needed to answer five questions, complete a slogan and drop it in a box at the stadium.

The winner would drive away with a brand new Perodua Kancil TM car. Also to be won were a 29" TV, a three-day two-night stay at Concorde Hotel, Kuala Lumpur and 10 consolation prizes of Lotto shoes.

Strong crowd support for tournaments staged in Malaysia, including the 1997 pre-World Cup (10,000 per match) and the 1998 Commonwealth Games (12,000 for the final), was the rationale for this innovative marketing scheme. The ultimate yardstick, of course, is the 1975 World Cup semi-final between Malaysia and India, where 64,000 fans jammed the Merdeka stadium.

Any marketing can work only if it is promoting a quality product. This factor was sorely lacking in the Azlan Shah cup, as far as Malaysia's performance was concerned.  They lost all their league matches by huge margins, and barely won the playoff match against New Zealand to finish second from last.

This resulted in a huge drop in fans in the stadium. The nine-day event, which featured 18 matches, drew in a total of only 9,990 paying fans, for an average of 555 fans per game. The final of the prestigious Azlan Shah Cup drew only 2,994 fans, while the matches on April 7 (when Malaysia had an off day) featured a pathetic 90 paying fans in the stadium.

Without live TV coverage on ESPN-Star, without fans packing the stadium, and with a lacklustre display by the home team, the Azlan Shah tournament turned out to be a marketing nightmare.

Champions Trophy Sponsor Goes Bankrupt

The Economic Times has reported that the Kuber Group of Companies has wound up its operations, and its owners have allegedly absconded. This non-banking financial company had mobilized over Rs. 5 billion (about $119 million), and had an investor base of over 1 million. It was said to have raised money the last few years through as many as 300 schemes.

The police began an investigation after investors discovered the offices of the group headquarters in New Delhi locked. The Reserve Bank of India has formally restrained 3 group companies from selling or mortgaging assets.

The Chairman of the Kuber Group, Pradyuman Kumar Sharma, was instrumental in sponsoring the 1996 Kuber Champions Trophy in Chennai, India. To date it is the only Champions Trophy to have been held in India and the second biggest hockey event to have been held in India after the 1982 World Cup in Mumbai.

The total sponsorship amount of the 1996 Kuber Champions Trophy was Rs. 2.10 crores. The Kuber Group spent an equal amount in promoting the event nationwide, with the Kuber Champions Trophy torch showing the way from Kashmir to Chennai.

Pradyuman Sharma, who hails from Meerut, represented Uttar Pradesh in hockey

Visa Restrictions Relaxed for Pakistani Sportsmen

From April 2, visa restrictions have been relaxed for Pakistani nationals in eight specified categories, including all members of the Pakistani cricket and hockey teams, who are touring as a team. This was one of the fallouts of the bus diplomacy between the Prime Ministers of the two countries earlier in the year.

These categories of people (which includes Supreme Court and High Court judges, members of the National Assembly and Senate, vice-chancellors, secretary-rank bureaucrats, editors-in-chief, besides the sportsmen) will be entitled to multiple entry visas of 1 year duration. Spouses and dependent children would also be issued the visas.

On the cricket front, the recent Pepsi Cup triangular series resulted in 1000 Pakistani cricket fans being issued 2-day visas to witness the Indo-Pak matches at Mohali on April 1. A special train from Attari brought the fans into India. In that match, Pakistani flags, as well as India-Pakistan friendship placards were a common sight.

Those two days, the Pakistanis were treated like honoured guests. Most of them were given discounts in shops and restaurants (upto 50% off). Inzamman-ul-Haq and Mohammed Razak were presented with 7 pairs of jeans and T-Shirts by a shopkeeper. A tailor presented a golden achkan to his favourite player Inzamman-ul-Haq.

True to form, the Indian cricket team lost the match to Pakistan by 7 wickets!

Fun With Numbers

New Zealand has so few hockey players, and plays in so few international tournaments, that only 10 players overall have more than 100 caps for New Zealand.

This small and exclusive group includes Jeff Archibald, Peter Daji, Brett Leaver, Grant McLeod, Peter Miskimmin, Ramesh Patel and the lone women Jamie Smith.

During the recent Azlan Shah tournament, 3 more New Zealanders joined the above list - captain Scott Anderson, joint vice-captain Simon Towns and Umesh Parag.


Rick Charlesworth

Article by Gene Stephan courtesy The West Australian

He is the greatest Australian sporting legend the rest of the world hasn’t heard of.

Mention Don Bradman in London or Leeds and they will admit he was the best. The Japanese will nod admiringly when you talk of Greg Norman. Rod Laver is still admired from New York to Los Angeles.

But Ric Charlesworth is a household name in the hockey domain only, yet he has long been acknowledged as the outstanding player of one of the world’s best hockey nations.

This recent opinion was confirmed in a recent poll of former Australian hockey captains, coaches, players, administrators and umpires, who were asked to vote on their top 12. It was not even close. The former politician swept to the No. 1 ranking in a landslide, polling 347 votes out of a possible 396.

He played 227 games for Australia during a 16-year international career, 130 as captain. Of all the highlights, none stands out as much as his wonderful effort at the 1986 World Cup in London. Where he captained his team to victory, was the leading goal-scorer of the tournament, and was voted as the Player of the Tournament.

For almost two decades, players from Argentina to Zimbabwe regarded him as the world’s most complete player because of his uncanny skills, excellent acceleration and determination. His status was suitably rewarded when he carried the Australian flag at the opening ceremony of the 1988 Olympic Games.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Charlesworth managed to translate the experience he had gained as a player into coaching without diminishing his record.

Under Charlesworth, the Australian women’s hockey team has won two World Cups, the 1996 Olympic gold medal and the 1998 Commonwealth Games tournament,   They have not lost an international tournament since he took over as coach in 1993.

The 'Great One' Has Retired

Wayne Gretzky

Photo Courtesy The New York Times

Just a field hockey is India's national game, ice hockey is Canada's national game. What the hockey wizard Dhyan Chand was to field hockey, the Canadian Wayne Gretzky is to ice hockey - the greatest player the game has ever seen. We pause to give a brief tribute to the Great One.

First his resume. He played 20 years in the National Hockey League (NHL), scored 894 goals including 50 hat-tricks, and won 4 Stanley Cups, their equivalent of the World Cup. He won 10 NHL scoring trophies, and 9 Most Valuable Player awards, and set 61 major NHL records.

His role was important in bringing NHL to mainstream acceptance in USA after he was traded from Edmonton to Los Angeles. By the early 90s, the LA Kings had supplanted the LA Lakers in being the team to watch for celebrities in Los Angeles. The media exposure that Gretzky generated played a role in the NHL's expansion to the Sun Belt in the US.

Gretzky's last game was at the Madison Square Garden in New York City, where he got a memorable sendoff. In a pre-game ceremony, the National Hockey League commissioner retired his number 99 from the entire league (rather than just his team). The giant video screens showed memorable goals from Gretzky's career.

After the game, the entire stadium went dark, except for a lone flashlight on Wayne Gretzky who skated round and round the rink. There was not a dry eye in the audience, as they understood that Number 99 would never again play in the National Hockey League.

How to Create a National Hockey League

New Zealand National Hockey League

Photo by David Alexander of The Press

The mandarins of the Indian Hockey Federation should take a lesson from their counterparts in the New Zealand Hockey Federation, who with careful planning and lots of perseverance have formed the Lion Foundation National Hockey League. The league will replace the National Hockey Championship, which have been conducted for the last 30 years.

Over the past two decades, there were suggestions and discussions on starting a National Hockey League in New Zealand. But then talk is cheap. Last year, the New Zealand Hockey Federation approved a 6-week National Hockey League, with 6 men's teams and 6 women's teams, under a total operating cost of $180,000.

Each team has paid $10,000 to enter. The NZHF has contributed $20,000 for additional costs, and two months ago the Lion Foundation agreed to a substantial sponsorship, which means the league should covers its costs in its first year. Each team can raise its own sponsorship to cover the $10,000 entry fee as well as other costs, with the result that the player does not have to pay anything.

The six men's teams are Auckland, Canterbury, North Harbour, Northland, Waikato and Wellington. Auckland is sponsord by TK, the Canterbury Cavaliers by Papanui Tavern, Northland by Kensington Tavern, and Waikato by Midland Express.

The six women's teams are Auckland, Canterbury, Manawatu, North Harbour, Wanganui and Wellington. Auckland is sponsored by TK, the Canterbury Cats by Papanui Tavern, the Manawatu Emeralds by Ezibuy, and Wanganui by Grand Hotel Hawkes Bay.

The National Hockey League introduced a draft to ensure an equitable distribution of the top players in the league. Up to four imports can be used in each team. For example, Canterbury was in the envious position of having both the national goalkeepers in its squad, so one of the goalkeepers, Karen Smith, was picked by Manawatu to get more game time.

The last-placed team in the National Hockey League would have to qualify for next year's league by playing and beating the provincial champion, which in turn would try to win and get promoted into the league.

The executive director of the national federation, Ramesh Patel, said that it was time for hockey to move on and try the league. "Earlier, the national hockey championship was crammed into 6 days. Now the league will be spread over 6 weeks, so there will be higher profile of hockey in the media. It would also increase the exposure of our national players in provinces they might not normally go to."

With the new league comes an entertainment package. Each team will have its own theme song, and a 15-second jingle to be played when it scores a goal. All in all, it is a well-planned attempt to market hockey better in a country where rugby and cricket dominate the national sporting scene.

Beighton Cup Hockey Tournament

The 104th edition of the country's oldest tournament - the Beighton Cup - was held in Calcutta in April. Teams taking part were Bengal-Nagpur Railways (BNR), Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Army Service Corps, Central Industrial Security Force, Corps of Signals (Bangalore), Sikh Regimental Centre and Central Railway (Mumbai).

Due to a complete lack of coverage of the Beighton Cup in the news media outside Calcutta, this All-India invitational event cannot be covered further in this bulletin.

Money Matters

This edition of Money Matters focusses on the 80-20 rule used by the Internal Revenue Service in USA for computing tax-deductible contributions to university sports programs.

In 1986, the US Congress amended the tax code stating that 80% of any contribution made to a university sports program can be claimed as a charitable deduction on the income tax return. The other 20% is the perceived value of the gift to the donor (usually free tickets to the university's sports games), which cannot be claimed on the income tax return.

The 80-20 rule does not apply to donations to a university's sports program that result in the donor receiving seats in the luxury sky boxes in the stadium. In this case, the perceived value of the gift to the donor (luxury sky box seating) is far more than the standard 20% of the gift.

To give an idea of the monies involved, just in the Big 12 Football Conference alone, 5 universities have completed a combined $100 million worth of luxury suite construction in their football stadium. For example, several donors gave $2 million gifts to the University of Nebraska and received luxury suites in the stadium for as long as 20 years.

Every year, college sportswomen receive more than $160 million in sports scholarships, while college sportsmen receive more than $340 million annually. This money is primarily sourced from television contracts of live telecasts of university sports.

Visitor of the Month

This edition's Visitor of the Month features a hockey umpire from the land of the pampas. Jorge Luis Fernández writes:

Hello! I'm Argentinian, and I have very fond memories about the visit of the Indian hockey team to my country in 1973 . I was a child that time, and they gave me sticks, shirts, etc., that I keep to this day.

I wanted to know something about those players (Ashok Kumar, Surjit Singh, Govinda, etc.). They perhaps remember me as Fernandez Jr.  I would be grateful if you have any update on them because my father (one of the men that brought I.H.T to this country), always asks about them.

At present, I'm a hockey umpire and keep in touch with differents people around the world. I hope India gets to the top level soon. The best for you and your team!


Yet another tale of bungling by hockey officials.

For the first time in 47 years, a Pakistani hockey team took part in the Beighton Cup Hockey Tournament. Lahore City Sports Club. The team was managed by N. A. Saifi, who had played in the previous Pakistan team that played in the 1951 Beighton Cup.

"We spoke with Shiv Kumar Verma, secretary of the Nehru Hockey Memorial Society in Delhi, who was assigned by the Bengal Hockey Association to take care of our team. And Verma said all arrangements would be made for us in Delhi.''

Poor Saifi unwittingly believed Shiv Kumar Verma and the team boarded the Samjhauta Express from Lahore to Delhi. To their surprise, they found none to receive them. "For a major part of the day, we sat on the platform as we were denied entry in the waiting room,'' said Qadeer Bashir, captain of the team and a member of Pakistan's last World Cup, who works in the education department of the Punjab Government of Pakistan.

Later in the afternoon, a group of the members boarded the train for Calcutta with the help of Rs 2,500 bribe to the ticket checker for a few berths. After a few stations, it turned out that the berths were not actually allotted to them and they had been duped. They were evicted from their berths and the rest of the journey they travelled without seats.

"Hamare saath bahut zaati hui hai," said Bashir. "After all we are guests. But the experience that the other members of the team had during their journey was awful," he said.

Sportingly, the captain said that he would not bring the bitterness back to his country. "It is a goof-up by officials. We are here to play the game and we want to build the bridge of friendship between the two countries."

By Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay of The Indian Express