May 29, 2013

What the IPL can learn from Champions League football

One of these tournaments is rich, revered and rigorous in its demand for high standards. It's not the cricket one
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Simple question: which game is more likely to be fixed, the football Champions League final, or an IPL match?

I've asked many sports fans that question. Every one has answered without hesitation: the IPL match. It would be deeply shocking if the Champions League final were fixed. And yet most cricket insiders reacted without any surprise at all to the arrest of three Rajasthan players. Disentangling the differences between modern football's showcase event and today's richest cricket league will tell us why the IPL has been so vulnerable to corruption.

When writing about corruption in the IPL, it is easy accidentally to offend people on several levels. So we should guard against the lazy assumption that all Twenty20 is rotten, especially as the current case against three Rajasthan players has yet to be heard. Secondly, we should always remember that corruption in cricket is not limited to one geographical zone. After all, the young English fast bowler Mervyn Westfield was convicted of conspiring to underperform in a county match.

Having (hopefully) avoided those familiar traps, let me now take a risk all of my own making. My argument will probably offend cricket fans of many different persuasions, ranging from conservatives who hate Twenty20 to modernisers who can't get enough of cricket's new-found razzmatazz.

Here is my controversial thesis: to avoid further corruption, cricket must learn to be more like football. Cricket fans often look down on football as brash and populist. But the evolution of modern football has a great deal to teach cricket. Why?

In football, players care most about the most lucrative leagues; in cricket, players care more about international cricket, but earn infinitely more in the IPL.

In football, celebrity does not allow players to cling on well past their best; in the IPL, a big name still buys you a role in the show.

In football, money mirrors quality; in cricket, financial incentives and sporting prestige are poorly correlated.

The real problem with the IPL is a fatal combination of two deficits. First, the discrepancy between the money players can earn over a few weeks of providing entertainment in the IPL and the income they earn over a year of hard struggle in the international calendar. Secondly, the gap in seriousness between top flight international cricket and the circus of various T20 leagues. It is not "money" that is the problem. It is money divorced from seriousness. Football is serious business. Is Twenty20 a serious business? The jury is still out.

When Arjen Robben scored the winner for Bayern Munich in the Champions League final, he described the experience as the pinnacle of world football. Bearing in mind that Robben has also played in a World Cup final, Robben's reaction is telling testimony of the shifting balance of power within football. In terms of sporting quality and prestige, club football may well have supplanted international competition.

It is not "money" that is the problem. It is money divorced from seriousness. Football is serious business. Is Twenty20 a serious business?

If you are a great footballer, you earn a good portion of your reputation in the Champions League. The league has no tolerance for ageing superstars who are past their best; no one gets on the pitch on reputation alone. Fans don't cheer for famous players deep into their declining years; they applaud winners. If you want to be regarded among the best, you have to cut it in Europe.

And yet the Champions League is a business that makes big money for clubs, players and broadcasters. But in doing so, it has also raised the standard and standing of football. It is not a cynical money-making device that exploits football of questionable quality as a circus act. It is a superb league that also, as a happy by-product, makes money for everyone involved.

The exponential growth of football as a business has been reflected in its quality as a sport. The on-field spectacle is better now than it ever has been before. The vast rewards on offer in the Champions League have not poisoned it or made it vulnerable to corruption - quite the reverse. The Champions League is a case of professional evolution working out to the advantage of the whole game.

Keep the example of the Champions League in your mind as we turn towards the IPL. Did anyone on the pitch in the IPL final believe that that it was cricket's ultimate prize? Did any player think he was competing for the most precious trophy in the game has to offer? Alternatively, did they view it as a final performance of a long theatrical tour? And how many of the IPL's older stars calculate that no one will remember anything about this epilogue to their careers, that their reputations are already secure thanks to their efforts in international cricket? Vast income without accompanying reputational risk is a lethal combination.

Many shrewd judges have explored vulnerability of the IPL to match-fixing. Ed Hawkins, author of Bookie, Gambler, Fixer, Spy has pointed out that the structure of the competition - a yearly auction, high player mobility, a lack of player loyalty to franchises - reinforces the idea that it is primarily a money-making vehicle, a cash cow in which every man is for himself. Secondly, during the first two seasons, there was no oversight of the IPL by the ICC's anti-corruption unit.

It is less often pointed out that culture is at least as important as regulation. Expecting regulators and police to solve cricket's problems absolves the game's practitioners of responsibility. Players and administrators also have to guard the sport's integrity.

In the 18th century, the precursors of the London Stock Exchange were the informal exchanges in coffee shops. They developed their own systems of rules and enforcement. Those who didn't settle their accounts were "named and shamed" by their peers and labelled "lame duck".

The most effective policing comes from within the culture. Ask yourself: if a footballer threw a Champions League final, do you think his team-mates would put up with him the following season? When you can say the same about the IPL, the league will be clean.

Ed Smith's book, Luck - A Fresh Look at Fortune, is out in paperback now. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • avi_b on May 30, 2013, 2:28 GMT

    I wonder if it's too early to compare IPL against Champions League or other successful leagues like NFL or MLB. I read most of the comments on here and they all make very good points. IPL is a very young league and having played decent level cricket for good years of my life and having experienced NFL football, MLB Baseball, NBA Basketball and Ice Hockey in the US for 7 years, I've observed that t20 leagues around the world and especially IPL is constantly fighting with intll cricket to find a place in the roster. Like Europe, all cricket playing nations and especially the ICC need to first make up their minds on what's best for the game. I'm a purist and love watching test cricket but t20 cricket is brisk and exciting and how often do you get to see a Dale Steyn bowl at AB De Villers in a game?! Also I feel it gives nations like Ireland to be competitive for once. So t20 definitely has a place in cricket but these young leagues will only evolve with time.

  • on May 29, 2013, 9:19 GMT

    Ed, You forgot few basic differences b/w Football and Cricket. To explain better, Imagine Football game having 3 different versions of it, from the regular one to a 5-a-side shorter version. If the original one is being played by teams representing countries, all the clubs play the 5-a-side version, and the champions league is a 5-a-side version tournament, then Would the players like Robben say Champions league is the pinnacle point? Would the players take the champions league as seriously as they are taking now?

    For Cricket players, Playing test and achieving success in that format is the pinnacle point. Obviously they will give less importance to IPL.

  • on May 29, 2013, 8:47 GMT

    Regarding the point you raised about Super stars past their prime getting the same reputation in IPL and in champions league, it's not the case. Again you forgot here the key difference in football and Cricket. Football requires great agility, super fitness, mere Skill and Ability are not sufficient. Fitness and speed plays a major role there. But In Cricket player's skill, ability, mental strength matters more than the fitness. You can't expect messi, the most skilled player in the world, to give his best with a small niggle. Ex: Champions league semi final first leg. But you take the case of Sachin. He is performing superbly even after suffering through injuries from so many years. He just know how to manage his body. Here the skill that matters more.

    Other than that, In how many countries Cricket is being played? Compare that to football. Cricket is not producing required Young talent, like in football, capable of performing at Higher levels, to replace the Super stars.

  • on May 29, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    There is Global, or at least European, consistency in Football. Each Nation has its National league. The winner of that league plays in next season's Champions' League. The runners-up in the Europa League. The fixture timetable over a season is the same in every European league with scheduled gaps for European fixtures and International matches. In cricket there is no consistency at all. In England we have been unable to create a T20 competition that matters because we have felt obliged to have 18 county participants and play at grounds unsuited to the scale that T20 should operate on - and does everywhere else. T20 in England cries out for an eight team franchise model playing at the big permently floodlit venues over a fixed summer period in good weather with a building excitement up to a Lord's Final. With no other cricket of any sort over that few weeks. It would be a spectacular and exciting event which would grab the public's attention and provide huge cashflow to the game.

  • jay57870 on June 1, 2013, 11:25 GMT

    "The Beautiful Game" is not so beautiful! Football's top governing body - FIFA - is plagued by corruption scandals: bid-rigging of World Cup contracts, vote-rigging, bribery & more! Corruption in club football too is ugly. Italy's biggest clubs - including Juventus (its oldest & most successful) - were implicated in the 2006 "Calciopoli" scandal. Like Europol, Italian police uncovered a network of team officials & referees involved in match-rigging. Disgraced Juventus was stripped of 2 league titles, demoted & barred from 2006-7 CL. Beauty is only skin-deep! Really football & cricket are like apples & oranges. A young IPL is going through growing pains. Spot-fixing is dreadful like acne, but treatable. To make a mountain out of a mole-hill is "lazy" writing! Like beauty, "culture" too is in the eyes of the beholder. If LSE can call out its "lame ducks", IPL can do better with due process for its "ugly ducklings"! The beauty contest final winner: IPL & cricket! It's no contest, Ed!

  • jay57870 on June 1, 2013, 3:08 GMT

    Ed - Can IPL learn from Champions League football? Seriously? Recently Europol uncovered a huge match-fixing syndicate after 18 months of investigation. Per BBC Sports, it covered 680 matches worldwide of which 380 were in Europe. Shockingly the suspected matches included 2 CL ties, World Cup & European Championship qualifiers & several top European League matches. Reportedly it included a CL fixture (no pun intended) in England between Liverpool & Debrecen of Hungary. The probe revealed widespread corruption among players, referees, team officials & criminals in 15 countries: The biggest match-fixing scam ever! Why, football has "shrewd judges" too! The Oxford-educated Canadian journalist & consultant - Dr Declan Hill - is a world-renowned expert in match-fixing & corruption in international sports. His investigative reporting was used in the Europol probe. His book "The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime" tells it all: Check it out, your pro-football views might change, Ed!

  • Harmony111 on May 30, 2013, 18:45 GMT

    Wow the author here compares a 6-7 year old league with a league that is decades old? Moreover, the IPL is just a domestic league while the Champions League is where League champions form all Europe compete. How could the author miss this simple point? I am not exactly a football follower so may be wrong in what I say for CL. County Cricket has been here since god knows when but who cares for it? Yet the author wants IPL to boot strap itself to the top shelf.

    Another thing is, be it Intl Football or EPL or CL, the format of football remains the same. The rules remain the same too. Cricket has 3 formats and IPL follows the newest and the shortest one. Thus how can he compare IPL/Cricket to CL?

    Finally, can there be a thing like spot fixing in football? I guess no. Corruption in cricket arose due to the very nature of the game along with the greed of some.

  • Harmony111 on May 30, 2013, 18:38 GMT

    Wow the author here compares a 6-7 year old league with a league that is decades old? Moreover, the IPL is just a domestic league while the Champions League is where League champions form all Europe compete. How could the author miss this simple point? I am not exactly a football follower so may be wrong in what I say for CL. County Cricket has been here since god knows when but who cares for it? Yet the author wants IPL to boot strap itself to the top shelf.

    Another thing is, be it Intl Football or EPL or CL, the format of football remains the same. The rules remain the same too. Cricket has 3 formats and IPL follows the newest and the shortest one. Thus how can he compare IPL/Cricket to CL?

    Finally, can there be a thing like spot fixing in football? I guess no. Corruption in cricket arose due to the very nature of the game along with the greed of some.

  • on May 30, 2013, 14:25 GMT

    Leave along European football league, I think its unfair to compare a 6 year old competition with more than 100 years of test cricket itself. Champion's league is most sought after title, because fans consider it so. Cricket fans at the moment think of Test championship and ODI WC to be greater achievement. It wont stay like this for long. A new generation of fans is taking over, which will follow their IPL teams and care for who plays in it. The big stars played their part and lent credibility to IPL in its initial years. They are going to fade away in coming years. My 8 year old never really cared for them and wont miss them. I might stop watching IPL, but IPL wont miss me either. If this league is managed right, it will have enough fan following in years to come to make this a coveted title. That's when it will become serious cricket. Just give it some time. As for fixing, it has nothing to do with IPL. Its a problem that has to be tackled in every sport, not just cricket.

  • Daredevils on May 30, 2013, 13:55 GMT

    Also, it seems your post has been written keeping in mind that the readers are not familiar with UCL or dont follow it. UCL does feature players on their reputation who are way past their prime. Case in point, David Beckham. He is obviously not the force he was once, but still played in the UCL this season, purely for brand purposes. The thing is, be it cricketers or footballers, they are the same breed. All love the last hurrah, so cricticizing only cricket for that is unfair I think.

  • avi_b on May 30, 2013, 2:28 GMT

    I wonder if it's too early to compare IPL against Champions League or other successful leagues like NFL or MLB. I read most of the comments on here and they all make very good points. IPL is a very young league and having played decent level cricket for good years of my life and having experienced NFL football, MLB Baseball, NBA Basketball and Ice Hockey in the US for 7 years, I've observed that t20 leagues around the world and especially IPL is constantly fighting with intll cricket to find a place in the roster. Like Europe, all cricket playing nations and especially the ICC need to first make up their minds on what's best for the game. I'm a purist and love watching test cricket but t20 cricket is brisk and exciting and how often do you get to see a Dale Steyn bowl at AB De Villers in a game?! Also I feel it gives nations like Ireland to be competitive for once. So t20 definitely has a place in cricket but these young leagues will only evolve with time.

  • on May 29, 2013, 9:19 GMT

    Ed, You forgot few basic differences b/w Football and Cricket. To explain better, Imagine Football game having 3 different versions of it, from the regular one to a 5-a-side shorter version. If the original one is being played by teams representing countries, all the clubs play the 5-a-side version, and the champions league is a 5-a-side version tournament, then Would the players like Robben say Champions league is the pinnacle point? Would the players take the champions league as seriously as they are taking now?

    For Cricket players, Playing test and achieving success in that format is the pinnacle point. Obviously they will give less importance to IPL.

  • on May 29, 2013, 8:47 GMT

    Regarding the point you raised about Super stars past their prime getting the same reputation in IPL and in champions league, it's not the case. Again you forgot here the key difference in football and Cricket. Football requires great agility, super fitness, mere Skill and Ability are not sufficient. Fitness and speed plays a major role there. But In Cricket player's skill, ability, mental strength matters more than the fitness. You can't expect messi, the most skilled player in the world, to give his best with a small niggle. Ex: Champions league semi final first leg. But you take the case of Sachin. He is performing superbly even after suffering through injuries from so many years. He just know how to manage his body. Here the skill that matters more.

    Other than that, In how many countries Cricket is being played? Compare that to football. Cricket is not producing required Young talent, like in football, capable of performing at Higher levels, to replace the Super stars.

  • on May 29, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    There is Global, or at least European, consistency in Football. Each Nation has its National league. The winner of that league plays in next season's Champions' League. The runners-up in the Europa League. The fixture timetable over a season is the same in every European league with scheduled gaps for European fixtures and International matches. In cricket there is no consistency at all. In England we have been unable to create a T20 competition that matters because we have felt obliged to have 18 county participants and play at grounds unsuited to the scale that T20 should operate on - and does everywhere else. T20 in England cries out for an eight team franchise model playing at the big permently floodlit venues over a fixed summer period in good weather with a building excitement up to a Lord's Final. With no other cricket of any sort over that few weeks. It would be a spectacular and exciting event which would grab the public's attention and provide huge cashflow to the game.

  • jay57870 on June 1, 2013, 11:25 GMT

    "The Beautiful Game" is not so beautiful! Football's top governing body - FIFA - is plagued by corruption scandals: bid-rigging of World Cup contracts, vote-rigging, bribery & more! Corruption in club football too is ugly. Italy's biggest clubs - including Juventus (its oldest & most successful) - were implicated in the 2006 "Calciopoli" scandal. Like Europol, Italian police uncovered a network of team officials & referees involved in match-rigging. Disgraced Juventus was stripped of 2 league titles, demoted & barred from 2006-7 CL. Beauty is only skin-deep! Really football & cricket are like apples & oranges. A young IPL is going through growing pains. Spot-fixing is dreadful like acne, but treatable. To make a mountain out of a mole-hill is "lazy" writing! Like beauty, "culture" too is in the eyes of the beholder. If LSE can call out its "lame ducks", IPL can do better with due process for its "ugly ducklings"! The beauty contest final winner: IPL & cricket! It's no contest, Ed!

  • jay57870 on June 1, 2013, 3:08 GMT

    Ed - Can IPL learn from Champions League football? Seriously? Recently Europol uncovered a huge match-fixing syndicate after 18 months of investigation. Per BBC Sports, it covered 680 matches worldwide of which 380 were in Europe. Shockingly the suspected matches included 2 CL ties, World Cup & European Championship qualifiers & several top European League matches. Reportedly it included a CL fixture (no pun intended) in England between Liverpool & Debrecen of Hungary. The probe revealed widespread corruption among players, referees, team officials & criminals in 15 countries: The biggest match-fixing scam ever! Why, football has "shrewd judges" too! The Oxford-educated Canadian journalist & consultant - Dr Declan Hill - is a world-renowned expert in match-fixing & corruption in international sports. His investigative reporting was used in the Europol probe. His book "The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime" tells it all: Check it out, your pro-football views might change, Ed!

  • Harmony111 on May 30, 2013, 18:45 GMT

    Wow the author here compares a 6-7 year old league with a league that is decades old? Moreover, the IPL is just a domestic league while the Champions League is where League champions form all Europe compete. How could the author miss this simple point? I am not exactly a football follower so may be wrong in what I say for CL. County Cricket has been here since god knows when but who cares for it? Yet the author wants IPL to boot strap itself to the top shelf.

    Another thing is, be it Intl Football or EPL or CL, the format of football remains the same. The rules remain the same too. Cricket has 3 formats and IPL follows the newest and the shortest one. Thus how can he compare IPL/Cricket to CL?

    Finally, can there be a thing like spot fixing in football? I guess no. Corruption in cricket arose due to the very nature of the game along with the greed of some.

  • Harmony111 on May 30, 2013, 18:38 GMT

    Wow the author here compares a 6-7 year old league with a league that is decades old? Moreover, the IPL is just a domestic league while the Champions League is where League champions form all Europe compete. How could the author miss this simple point? I am not exactly a football follower so may be wrong in what I say for CL. County Cricket has been here since god knows when but who cares for it? Yet the author wants IPL to boot strap itself to the top shelf.

    Another thing is, be it Intl Football or EPL or CL, the format of football remains the same. The rules remain the same too. Cricket has 3 formats and IPL follows the newest and the shortest one. Thus how can he compare IPL/Cricket to CL?

    Finally, can there be a thing like spot fixing in football? I guess no. Corruption in cricket arose due to the very nature of the game along with the greed of some.

  • on May 30, 2013, 14:25 GMT

    Leave along European football league, I think its unfair to compare a 6 year old competition with more than 100 years of test cricket itself. Champion's league is most sought after title, because fans consider it so. Cricket fans at the moment think of Test championship and ODI WC to be greater achievement. It wont stay like this for long. A new generation of fans is taking over, which will follow their IPL teams and care for who plays in it. The big stars played their part and lent credibility to IPL in its initial years. They are going to fade away in coming years. My 8 year old never really cared for them and wont miss them. I might stop watching IPL, but IPL wont miss me either. If this league is managed right, it will have enough fan following in years to come to make this a coveted title. That's when it will become serious cricket. Just give it some time. As for fixing, it has nothing to do with IPL. Its a problem that has to be tackled in every sport, not just cricket.

  • Daredevils on May 30, 2013, 13:55 GMT

    Also, it seems your post has been written keeping in mind that the readers are not familiar with UCL or dont follow it. UCL does feature players on their reputation who are way past their prime. Case in point, David Beckham. He is obviously not the force he was once, but still played in the UCL this season, purely for brand purposes. The thing is, be it cricketers or footballers, they are the same breed. All love the last hurrah, so cricticizing only cricket for that is unfair I think.

  • on May 30, 2013, 12:07 GMT

    I do not like comparisons between sports, there are too many basic ingrained differences, but if you compared the IPL to the WWE it would be closer than a comparison to football. The IPL is Entertainment first and cricket second. WWE is entertainment first, Olympic wrestling is competition first. If you accept the premise of entertainment first, then there is nothing wrong with the IPL, those who follow and enjoy it are permitted to watch 'stars' from all eras making money and see young players try and elevate their traditional careers. It is only when you put it on a pedestal and call it 'sport' do you have to expect it to follow the rules of the mother game I would suggest it should be divorced from the BCCI and see what happens when it has to survive on its own outside the regulations of the sport. It could then make its own rules, its own stars and no one could object, even gambling would be allowed but the punters would know it was a sham to start with. Just don't call it Cricket.

  • on May 30, 2013, 5:13 GMT

    dont compare cricket and football

    football is known around the world cricket is only in cricket playing country

  • yoohoo on May 30, 2013, 4:53 GMT

    This is just being blind to soccer's fixing, nothing else. According to Europol there were atleast 680 instances of known/suspected spot fixing between 2008-2011. Spot Fixing in soccer is rampant, people are just choosing to be blind. The difference is cricket had a hansie cronje, the day soccer have their "cronje" they will start taking it seriously.

  • on May 30, 2013, 1:53 GMT

    well IPL is more like bollywood infused circus. thy have dancing girls in a same room with post game analysis.thy are trying too hard to sell it to people rather than jst focus on cricket and let money part take care of itself. and player act like highly paid and low in skills that clowns in circus require...........anyone who takes it as a sport is mistaken.

  • PeteB on May 29, 2013, 22:08 GMT

    The rewards players are get are inconsistent with their abilities. Many players are picked for the obvious marketability and not their ability in this format. As you say these disconnects will always make the IPL (and similar T20 leagues) seem a bit frivolous,even if entertaining.

  • on May 29, 2013, 21:36 GMT

    Ed, nice piece. However, I dont see the players yet taking their peer to task in India..maybe true for an OZ, but in India money still blinds at times.

  • Tlotoxl on May 29, 2013, 20:28 GMT

    For those saying that footballers are incorruptible because of their astronomical wages, in the premier league they probably are but according to 2011 figures The Championship (just one league down from the the EPL) the average pay is only £200,000 a year. If you drop down another couple of leagues - still professional teams that you can bet on - the average pay for a player is only £747 per week, that is only just over twice what I get paid as a postman!

  • MichealT on May 29, 2013, 19:27 GMT

    Ed and sid you missed two crucial points. IPL is totally an Indian league where as Champions league is a European league where nationalist feelings are involved to the full. Secondly FIFA has many member countries who can play friendlies every now and than while Cricket only has 10 full members. Just like Worldcup Soccer where national pride is at full, the international cricket series has the same taste. Indians might be more involved in it but outside it is just a fun game. I played Fantasy T20 and never really cared about who wins but whether my team score points.

  • on May 29, 2013, 19:18 GMT

    well u cant compare two games football is different ball game altogether and how much pride football players play for scoring goals millions times in la liga EPL etc messi ronalods but cant win a game for u r national team more contennted to play for clubs not international games rarely u will see a football international so cricket in my sense is patriotic game football got own charm cant compare game of one calliber to other

  • BRUTALANALYST on May 29, 2013, 19:05 GMT

    I disagree this year's IPL was very serious, you can't for example tell me for one second the Worlds best fast bowler Dale Steyn wasn't running in every ball the same way he does for South Africa giving his all or the West Indian and Aussie stars weren't serious ? the emotions on the pitch tell you they all take the IPL very serious !

  • fguy on May 29, 2013, 18:39 GMT

    @TheOnlyEmperor - good points mate.

    @Josh Strauss - yes, why should a DOMESTIC league encourage local players?

    to the writer's qs - "if a footballer threw a Champions League final, do you think his team-mates would put up with him the following season? When you can say the same about the IPL, the league will be clean " i can guarantee it's the same with the IPL. even if Sreesanth & others are somehow found not guilty in court their careers are over as no one will want to play with/against them

  • Hutton364 on May 29, 2013, 17:39 GMT

    The contention that champions league football is cleaner is very dubious.

    Here is an extract from a recent article in The Economist: WITH an estimated $2 billion a week being wagered in Asia alone on football, the notion that match-fixing in the sport was a small, contained problem always strained the imagination. But the scale of the allegations in a report issued on February 4th by Europol, the pan-European police agency closely aligned with Interpol, still managed to stun most observers. The investigators identified a whopping 680 matches in 30 countries as potentially suspicious, including 380 in Europe from 2008-11. Some of them involved the sport's most prestigious competitions, including the English Premier League (EPL), the pan-European Champions League and international tournaments."

  • on May 29, 2013, 17:31 GMT

    "In football, celebrity does not allow players to cling on well past their best" - err you might want to take a look at a recently retired Paris SG player...

    But no your points are fair ones, I think with time the IPL will become and more of a meritocracy, they needed the ageing big names to get things moving.

  • on May 29, 2013, 17:28 GMT

    Ed Smith as mentioned many times to compare IPL with CL is not right it may be better to premier league soccer. In that case I'll think an IPL game was genuine before i believe any game thats played in the Italian soccer league.

  • ARad on May 29, 2013, 17:20 GMT

    There is one other crucial difference between the games that Ed Smith did not address. Cricket offers many more opportunities for (mindless) spot-fixing (such as noballs) than football and they may not always affect the results of the game. This probably gives a number of cricketers a certain amount of moral elasticity. Also, cricketers are hardly as well-paid in general compared to footballers. Buying them to bowl a pesky noball or two is much easier.

  • on May 29, 2013, 17:05 GMT

    Dear Ed, while I support some of your points, I utterly disagree with many of them. First of all, IPL is a national league lets say just like EPL and to compare it with champions league football, its not the same. You could have compared with CLT20 at least. Secondly, there are as many as three formats in cricket unlike just one in football which is played for a regular 90 minutes, 11 players a side. Different cricket fans and lovers have different affinity towards each format of the cricket game. Thirdly, like in cricket, no matter how ludicrous and money-rewarding club football is, players I believe would be more proud to play for the country and win for the country rather than for the clubs. Lets take an example from recently retarded football icon Beckham, who reportedly told he had maximum pride and enthusiasm to play for England than any other clubs and leagues. So, lets not be so quick to compare IPL with CL when its merely six years old!!

  • Mohammad_Aziz on May 29, 2013, 17:03 GMT

    "if a footballer threw a Champions League final, do you think his team-mates would put up with him the following season?" I can without a doubt can say the same about IPL. If anyone proved to be guilty, all his teammate will feel similar (if not more) hatred and cheated feeling. But that does not make it really less vulnerable.

  • ProdigyA on May 29, 2013, 16:31 GMT

    Relax people. Forget the champions league, lets talk about FIFA, which is even more popular than CL. There are huge allegations about matches fixing, corruption, money laundering and what not, to the extent that even David Cameroon, PM of UK went on record to critisize FIFA. So pls dont tell me football is cleaner than cricket. Having said that, im not justing the acts of the corrupt in IPL. They should be punished severely and im sure thats going to happen.

  • Cpt.Meanster on May 29, 2013, 16:09 GMT

    I am a Canadian who only started viewing cricket since 1997. Even then, I never liked the test format. I thought it was too long and boring. Even today I prefer watching ODI and T20 cricket formats. But coming to the point, being a Canadian I HARDLY watch soccer. In fact MOST Canadians and Americans don't care about soccer here in North America so I guess this article is not aimed at us. However, I understand that soccer is a big deal in Europe including parts of Asia. Coming to the point however, the IPL is only 6 years old and it has many flaws and misconceptions. It is still far from being a polished league. The same can be said about ALL the domestic leagues that have recently popped up around the world. They are all clones of the IPL. First of all please don't compare the IPL to the Champions League soccer. If you wish to draw comparison, the English Premier League would be the right one. Even then, there is a lot of history there. Give the IPL 10 more years and then come back.

  • PPXII on May 29, 2013, 15:52 GMT

    Firstly,All cricket writers and fans should understand the fact that cricket comprises of three different formats and cricket followers have diverse taste for format whereas a soccer game is played for a fixed duration of time.Secondly IPL is a very young league and it is absurd to compare it with well established leagues having ardent fan following.

  • mohisham on May 29, 2013, 15:26 GMT

    IPL has been around for 6 years, it is still evolving and maturing as a format and tournament. UEFA Champions League has been around since 1955, the current players have grown up watching their teams play and compete for this "ultimate" prize, and so in their eyes it has grown in stature.

    Lets see how the IPL holds up in 20-30 years, and we may see the same kind of reverence towards it by that time.

  • santhoo24 on May 29, 2013, 15:23 GMT

    If you want to compare, please compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges!! For a start, IPL is a domestic league as everyone knows, compare IPL to say EPL or La Liga or Bundesliga, which would be more appropriate. Once you do that you can draw many similarities between those leagues and IPL, domestic, city based franchises auctioning players like cattle, a more season- kind of model (IPL runs for 2 months while other leagues run almost throughout the year), etc etc. Having done that I don't see any point in your post. Talk of culture, we Indians are not accustomed to city based leagues, and are getting accustomed to the concept, which will develop eventually, it's not an overnight process.

  • andystat on May 29, 2013, 15:15 GMT

    Shirt pulling, holding, diving, arguing with the referee... yup, the EPL provides a much better role model for kids than the IPL.

  • on May 29, 2013, 14:55 GMT

    Ed, im sorry mate but you certainly seem like your more of a football follower than a cricket one. Some points you mention are true, but cricket is so very much different than football. Like what Mr. Sudharshan said in the first comment, Test Cricket is the ultimate pinnacle for any international cricketer, but can you form a league out of test cricket? it seems a bit ludicrous to even think that. And finally i wouldnt believe that each footballer in the world will say a champions league final is the ultimate top for them. Players are still extremely proud to play for their own country no matter the sport and i think its like that for footballers as well. You ask Messi and see, would he prefer to win a world cup for his country or keep winning more La Ligas and Champion leagues? I think he would love the former no matter the glory leagues bring in, playing for once country is the pinnacle if your a true sportsman. and i like to think Greats like Messi are like that.

  • Sammurai on May 29, 2013, 14:53 GMT

    Ed, U are born in wrong planet mate.and how can you compare an apple with orange.. just because they both are fruits??

  • on May 29, 2013, 14:25 GMT

    The problem with cricket is that it big thing only in Indian Sub continent, we dont have substitute for it! and thats why Board has no fear of decline of game because people really have no option!!! @kop2glory! Winning Cl is bigger thing that winning fifa wc because uefa cl showcase every talent that exist on earth! suppose some legendery player from smaller nation! like Ibra from sweden get eliminated because of rest of team mates!! it doesnt matter! but in Uefa cl he finds its right place!! there are many players like this!! like Bale, eeto, drogba and many other!!!

  • straightbat12 on May 29, 2013, 13:23 GMT

    Chalk and cheese...that's all that comes to mind when reading this.

  • SachinIsTheGreatest on May 29, 2013, 13:14 GMT

    @Harold Shockness, good point about Messi. Robben probably feels UCL is the pinnacle of football because he hasn't won a world cup and actually has been on the losing side in a final. Also I like the way the author has conveniently not touched upon fixed football matches. Isn't one English club's group game in one UCL being investigated? The point is not about whether T20 fans (like me) are offended or not. I think the writer has quite easily managed to completely ignore the fixing that is rife in football itself.

  • on May 29, 2013, 13:01 GMT

    Mr. Ed, shouldn't you be comparing Champions league with T-20 Champions league? they r much more comparable than IPL and CL, isn't it?When you do that, the whole article will all of a sudden start making sense !

  • bonaku on May 29, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    Well as you might know, there are many games involving the champions league qualification are fixed in last few years. One match was played against liverpool. If you look down, Italian serieA is there, just last season Juvantus manager was given 3 or 6 months band. So I dont think it is fair to say that football is pure. Nevertheless what ever has happened is not good for cricket and for its public and there is no question about this.

  • on May 29, 2013, 11:44 GMT

    IPL is just 6 yers old..It will become better with time...

  • on May 29, 2013, 11:24 GMT

    Biased article based on the comment of one footballer.The question can be asked Has Lionel Messi elevation to greatness not being put on hold because he has not won a world cup? Isnt FIFa having its own issues with corruption? Last of all the IPL represents the India Cricket league there is no well formulated Champions league in cricket and none of the major boards are overly concerned about creating one as it will forever shift the balance of power of the ICC. i am a little disappointed that he as a former cricket has not grasp the fundamentals of the world cricket order which has continued to give precedence to powerful Commonwealth countries . It is no mere coincidence that only the WI was able to rise to top of the ladder and then a re organisation of the rules , changes in eligibility requirements for overseas players conspire to their demise.

  • py0alb on May 29, 2013, 11:11 GMT

    Let us be brutally honest about this, the IPL is a complete joke, an embarrassment, an ugly scar on the face of cricket. A money grubbing vanity project for C-list celebrities, run by the Indian version of the Sopranos and played out as a series of benefit matches for semi-retired cricketers.

  • Kop2glory on May 29, 2013, 10:56 GMT

    99.99% of the football players think opposite of what Robben thinks. For every professional footballer, winning the WC is WAY beyond winning the CL. Have been following both the sports for the last 22 years, hence can say that with a bit of over-confidence. Cheers

  • on May 29, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    @TheOnlyEmperor - The Bell incident was clearly a case of England requesting India to rescind their appeal as although within the laws, it was not in the spirit of the game.

    I agree with Ed on this one, the IPL is just a glorified retirement fund for those whose bodies can't take the 5-day game any more & international stars whose boards can't afford to pay them as much as the top sides (e.g. the Windies).

    If you look at the top test sides, none of the English central contracted players play, none of the top class Aussies did & only a select few of the South Africans did. Graeme Smith chose to go play county cricket for Surrey instead!

    Also the format clearly is all about getting the money in the group games. Champions League you play a minimum of 8 games, football world cup it's 3, IPL, 16. It's all about getting 2 near-meaningless pressure-free games a day in for 7 weeks. Rather than establishing an enthralling knock-out tournament with high penalties for failure. It's boring tbh.

  • itismenithin on May 29, 2013, 10:38 GMT

    IPL is relatively new competition compared to all the football leagues. It can't boast of a rich history like football leagues. It is only a 2 month affair unlike club football which runs 10 months. There is very little Intl football competition happening which basically helps club football. Intl cricket will continue to be the ultimate test for the cricketer and his IPL auction value largely depend on his success in Intl cricket. But i like the fact the Intl cricket is give more importance than club cricket and it has to stay that way. Your country always comes first before your club. Since the player selection is through auction process the players doesn't get to choose their club of interest. All these factors will lead to players ta king the T20 carnival less seriously. But that doesn't mean IPL is likely to be corrupt. It has mostly to do with how it is run by the administrators and franchises.

  • bford1921 on May 29, 2013, 10:30 GMT

    The comparison used was unfair, had Robben won the world cup he would not have made that statement. However, many of the criticisms of the IPL stand up, it is entertainment over sport, and a number of has beens are clearly strutting their stuff long since past their sell by date, Indian and Australian. It is not the pinnacle of cricket, but it doesn't proclaim to be. The salaries are not in line with ability, something football addressed by being a fully competitive circuit, should IPL be selecting on talent alone then it would be a very different product, it should be remembered it is an Indian product for the Indian market, this is what the people want.

    The past it players extends to the test team, a number of players who were part of the recent test series between England and India are case and point, where the fitness of Sehwag and Zaheer Khan regardless of talent would not have played for England, they were simply not ready, but did market forces dictate otherwise?

  • IndiaChampspakchumps on May 29, 2013, 10:27 GMT

    The Champions League is about 50 years old or more, IPL is 6. Let us wait for about 50 years before comparing these two.

  • Captainman on May 29, 2013, 10:07 GMT

    lol again a popular sport like Football is being compared to an unpopular sport like Cricket played by a few countries :D

  • Stark62 on May 29, 2013, 9:41 GMT

    This is a ridiculous article!! In football, clubs are more important than International teams, whilst in cricket it is the opposite.

    Indian players would rather win a series against Pak, rather than winning the IPL.

    Cricket has more nationalistic pride than football, plus didn't the winner of the CL say "The greatest you can achieve.", meaning it's much more prestigious to win a club trophy over a world cup.

  • Nutcutlet on May 29, 2013, 9:31 GMT

    If playing in the Champion's League is the apogee for footballers playing in Europe, where the financial rewards are greatest, where reputations are most enhanced & where the kudos for winning the cup is most revered & acknowledged, then surely it is blindingly obvious that there should equivalence in the game of cricket. Yet football is essentially tribal (even if members of some tribes are spread round the world) & cricket is most clearly recognised & understood as a national (many tribes united) sport. Cricket is therefore a socially more evolved sport & it finds its most complete expression in Test matches. It follows that Test cricketers should not only be rewarded accordingly (way above any domestic tournament's inducement), but the highest standard of play will be found there. We do have the standard, but some players, justifiably, feel that the rewards are not commensurate. Now, what of the ICC? It alone must set the bar & see that TC is elevated accordingly in all respects.

  • mrgupta on May 29, 2013, 9:30 GMT

    @Sudarshan Chakravarthy: Very well said! In Football the loyalty of the players are with their respective clubs but in Cricket we like more to be with our Country. For a cricketer it feels proud to be playing for his country rather than his club and same is with the fans. As far as aging stars are concerned then in Cricket player hits his peak usually after 30 years of Age. Sachin at 38 hit the first Double in an ODI and was the Cricketer of the year in 2010 after playing for 20 years! Same cannot be said about Football.

  • on May 29, 2013, 8:50 GMT

    I understand the point ed is trying to make but his comparisons are a little off, IPL cannot to compared to the Champions league as it has teams from only one country. The fan following in football and the money earned by cricketers is also incomparably in favour of football! Why grudge IPL and label it to be a money making circus? Every country is aping the concept to lesser success. I agree that reputations precede the big names and unfairly favour them but the new generation is earning it's reputation based on the success in whichever format the play & succeed in! A pujara is not paid handsomely even though he is clearly a superb test batsman.

  • on May 29, 2013, 8:42 GMT

    Ed you are not comparing apples to apples here, Champions league is played by teams from different countries and IPL teams are from India only. I am sorry about Robben saying that winning champions league is higher than a football worldcup for his country , which says he is loyal to his club rather than his country. Coming back to IPL , one thing that is needed is to cleanse the BCCI , more strict rules .

  • Tigg on May 29, 2013, 8:09 GMT

    @TheOnlyEmperor He said cricket had some things to learn from football. Not that football is perfect. Get off your high horse.

  • on May 29, 2013, 8:08 GMT

    @PaddyBriggs. Why the love for the franchise system? The IPL is still unproven in terms of actual stability and sense. No English franchise competition could command the mental bucks from television that the IPL does. The Aussie Big Bash league suffered a a huge drop in spectator numbers in its second season and arguably has done absolutely nothing to help the Australian side beyond knackering its younger seamers. Your notion just roots cricket even further into the problem of the international venues gaining all the cash. Why should Glamorgan, Hampshire, or Gloucestershire for instance, sides who have hosted internationals and whom would want to be a franchise venue, gain all that moolah when their record for producing international cricketers has been rather limited?

    It's a queer reality that, in times of austerity and spectators being squeezed financially, many people seem to think the answer is more cricket.

  • on May 29, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    The IPL is a farce squeezed into an already overly long season where not all players from all counties have a chance to compete. Let's not forget the IPL was born to prevent the ICL which was not sanctioned but the ICC.

    I do not like the fact that it favours local players and that you can only have four international players per team. If the ICC really wants to be fair they should apply the same rules but have the league move to different countries each year like the A(ustralian)PL, E(nglish)PL etc.

    It is a money making scheme that is destroying the reputation of cricket, add to this the corruption charges and it looks even worse. Rather bring on an extended Test World Cup. There is nothing better than watching Steyn charge in at full tilt in whites.

  • on May 29, 2013, 7:57 GMT

    Ed, Europol say a Champions League tie (2009 Liverpool versus Debrecen) was fixed. That new came out this February. USing football as an example for the IPL to follow is bizarre. Serie A match fixing? FIFA officials? Taxpayer-funded Olympic stadiums going to footie clubs on the cheap? Tax breaks for millionaire footballers moving to Spain?

    "In football, celebrity does not allow players to cling on well past their best"

    Beckham and Ronaldinho would be the response to disprove this.

    "When Arjen Robben scored the winner for Bayern Munich in the Champions League final, he described the experience as the pinnacle of world football." Bear in mind that Robben had missed a penalty in the 2012 Final that would have given his side a 2-1 lead. They eventually lost in a penalty shoot-out to Chelsea. Robben's winner this year has an element of 'demons conquered' to it as the reaction after 2012 from fans was rather scathing.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on May 29, 2013, 7:55 GMT

    ""The last Indian tour of the UK saw vociferous appealing by the English, even when they knew the batsman was not out...." Of course that NEVER happens in India I suppose ?"

    I've never seen subversion of the entire umpiring process as was displayed during the last English tour as in the English captain approaching the Indian dressing room during lunch time and asking the Indian captain to take back the appeal against a batsman who was clearly out by the rules of the game and declared out by the umpire before lunch!

    I've never seen such a flagrant violation of the umpiring system where the Technology does not show a snick and the umpire rules him out... when there's no evidence!

    I've never seen the Indians ever insinuating that an English batsman could have applied vaseline on the bat blade so as to prevent the snick being caught by Hotspot - something that the English clearly did.

    Now, you want to defend all these actions of the English - the team and the establishment?

  • Dattaprasad234 on May 29, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    mr ed,I want to tell that for us Indians cricket is nt just a game,its a passion,religion.we worship cricket.for us our national team is more precious.we cant give priority to club cricket over national team.we follow ipl just for entertainment.watevr happeneed in ipl6 is very much unfortunate,we need clean administration by the board n concelling of the players.no field hav perfection,even football too.each n every individual needs to play his part honestly.we just love the game of cricket.for us Indians Cricket n Team India is a medium which unites billons of we Indians.Every Indian will agree wit this.So we cant give priority to club cricket over National team..

  • on May 29, 2013, 7:10 GMT

    @TheOnlyemperor:"The last Indian tour of the UK saw vociferous appealing by the English, even when they knew the batsman was not out...." Of course that NEVER happens in India I suppose ?

  • on May 29, 2013, 6:28 GMT

    It is not practical - as football is played at league level for more than 9 months a year and internationals sporadically. Agreed, money should be earned based on performance than on potential but the auction also takes player's marketing and brand value more than performance. It will mature over a period of time - but you cannot compare 45 days tournament over CL.

  • volmitius on May 29, 2013, 6:22 GMT

    so what you are saying is that cricket must go football way... and club cricket should be the priority !!! well ofcourse u can look to reduce corruption by lifting its importance...but the fact is that in cricket national sentiments are high where as in football u see club inclined public...for a manu fan,it is more imp. for him that manu wins league..no matter how england performs at world stage... but in cricket everyone wants to see India doing well irrespective of whether he is a kolkata supporter or punjab's. Indian public in general doesnt look IPL as serious cricket...its more like a annual circus..where big star comes in and party for 2 months... and its oll due to administration reasons... they hav failed to endorse IPL as cricket instead they endorse frm sharukhs picture to yes bank's extra interest to ipl parties and many more other things that comes with package...but not cricket !!!!!! so its easy to corrupt a league coz nobody takes it seriously !!

  • TheOnlyEmperor on May 29, 2013, 5:59 GMT

    "Here is my controversial thesis: to avoid further corruption, cricket must learn to be more like football. Cricket fans often look down on football as brash and populist. But the evolution of modern football has a great deal to teach cricket."

    Football still doesn't technology to have a say when it comes to even determining if the ball has crossed the goal line. Football players, even the famous ones, are brazenly seen to commit fouls, knowing fully well that they would be spotted by the numerous cameras... yet they are unafraid and don't care.

    Cricket seems to be picking up some of these bad habits. The last Indian tour of the UK saw vociferous appealing by the English, even when they knew the batsman was not out. The DRS system was subverted, when the review system failed to show a snick, yet the umpire gave the batsman out, over-ruling technology when it was supposed to have the final say.

    Finally, cricket is still game of honor unlike football, so save us the lecture!

  • vish2020 on May 29, 2013, 5:34 GMT

    Champions League Founded in 1955. IPL founded 6 years in 2007. So we are saying Champions League was just as good as it is now in 1961 just 6 years after? And champions League is not really like IPL. Like IPL is the Premier League of England. His article has so many flaws i am surprised it passes through others to get publish. Wow!

  • on May 29, 2013, 5:33 GMT

    Brilliant piece! Football is more organised because not a lot international matches are played unlike cricket where boards hardly find the space in their calendars for it's players to play at lucrative leagues much unlike football.! If there was one thing I'd like to change, the IPL must be played over a year like the Champions League in football. Find a day or week or weekend every month where in your players can come in and play a match or two. It retains the allure as Indians are crazy for cricket throughout the year.

  • UglyIndian on May 29, 2013, 5:29 GMT

    I still remember the comment made by David Lloyd after Inter Milan beat the all conquering Barcelona in the 2010 Champions League Semi final first leg. He said something like, 'If you can watch Inter Milan vs Barcelona, why would you want to watch Chennai Chunders vs Delhi Drumsticks'. And I couldn't have agreed with him more. The quality of CL or even the top European leagues is incredibly higher than the fake, money-churning, endlessly pointless T-20 circus that is the IPL. To play cricket in the peak of summer in places like Jaipur, Delhi, Chennai etc is inhumane. Sadly, the league is run like every big corporate in India with a dictator at the top taking arbitrary decisions with the sole aim to mint as much money as possible before his illegal activities get exposed. I gave up watching IPL long ago, and infact have almost completely moved to football, with very little time for cricket. I still try to follow test matches, but thats about it. The BCCI has pretty much killed cricket.

  • on May 29, 2013, 5:22 GMT

    Ed you are an excellent writer and commentator. Champions League football is like you say the pinnacle of the game , some may argue even bigger than the football WC itself. Two things stand in the way of IPL. Firstly, it is a T20 tournament. Most ardent cricket fans will tell you T20 is not cricket. It is highly entertaining , lot of skills in all 3 departments but it does not have any of the fundamentals which the game was built upon. Lets take Rugby league for comparison. Rugby is similarly played by a small number of nations but league competitions are very good. The difference is the game is still rugby not a 7 a side or 50 yard rugby. T20 is a packaged form of cricket to attract new viewers and really does not cater for the existing cricket fans.

  • on May 29, 2013, 5:11 GMT

    Brilliant analysis Mr. Smith. There are players like Steyn, DeVilliers who take IPL matches seriously but those, I think, are exceptions. There are aged players who are trying to be in the limelight for a little long and also earning good money on the basis of their reputation. This is not a good sign for the game.

  • on May 29, 2013, 5:00 GMT

    I am an avid cricket follower, and follow each result, although I hardly get to watch any cricket. I argue along the same lines with my friends about IPL and how it compares to club football. How can some days of T20 cricket be termed as a season? How can a player be contracted to multiple franchises of different T20 leagues? IPL makes absolutely no sense to me, and while people with no hint of international cricket being played at the same time were excitedly following IPL, I enjoyed following the Test matches between Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, which despite not being the best quality of cricket, was a superb contest. Most of those players will never play the IPL, but I will never rate an IPL match more than Test and ODI cricket, even if both teams had 11 international players.

  • RottPhiler on May 29, 2013, 3:56 GMT

    There are a lot of mysteries regarding the IPL. Why isn't the icon player's compensations determined by the market? Why would a Dhoni or a Tendulkar forgo a market determined salary while they watch Ravindra Jadeja get $2 Million from the market. Why would a Chris Gayle re-sign at the fixed rate of $550K without going back into the auction and getting rewarded with the maximum contract yet. Is there an independent audit ensuring that these players aren't paid unaccounted money? The rules need to be tightened.

  • RottPhiler on May 29, 2013, 3:54 GMT

    I don't watch football so I can't relate to the Champions League, but American sports leagues like the NBA and the NFL provide a similar yardstick. The overt capitalism and culture of winning is the most important factor to clean up the IPL. With restrictions on player salary especially uncapped Indian players, lack of a players union, lack of agents to negotiate a contract, lack of a trade window, all contribute to rewarding performance.

    When the league becomes all about rewarding performance, instead of rewarding 'big names', 'icon players', 'nayi soch', 'emerging uncapped player', and their various incarnations, then automatically the hunger and desire to perform will manifest itself. Reward performance not reputation.

  • on May 29, 2013, 3:51 GMT

    These comparisons unfortunately dont apply to cricket which is a money making business for many people. It really is a big ocean. Can anyone clean ocean. May be you can clean a pond. Your advise is like dropping buckets of water on a stone mountain.

  • greenandwhite on May 29, 2013, 3:26 GMT

    Though there are glaring differences in how players are paid, and in turn quality of both tournaments, they are both the consequence of how spectators believe them to be. These aren't two tournaments in which one side strives for excellence and the other is happy with mediocrity. The culture in India adores the star or the household name. After a few solid years in international cricket, a player is much harder to drop for India compared to England for example.

    An aging, underpreforming star still sells tickets and attracts large crowds. Even though Sachin didn't have a spectacular IPL, he still made crowds go wild whenever he walked out to the middle. In champions league football, the fans expect results and victories from their players.

    Owners of franchises couldn't drop stars who are not performing because it would be seen as a travesty by their home fans and would consequently result in a drop in ticket sales or profits. The invisible hand is the only factor to blame

  • SidLovesIndia on May 29, 2013, 3:04 GMT

    So Mr. Smith, the lesson to be learn from CL is that the IPL should become the ultimate aim of a professional cricket player? Within 6 years of its (and its format's) inception. Give me a break - the CL has developed its reputation over the ages, similar to what the ODI World Cup has done to cricket. Is winning the ODI World Cup every professional cricket player's dream? Of course yes. So you are comparing the wrong tournaments, Mr. Smith.

  • SidLovesIndia on May 29, 2013, 3:04 GMT

    So Mr. Smith, the lesson to be learn from CL is that the IPL should become the ultimate aim of a professional cricket player? Within 6 years of its (and its format's) inception. Give me a break - the CL has developed its reputation over the ages, similar to what the ODI World Cup has done to cricket. Is winning the ODI World Cup every professional cricket player's dream? Of course yes. So you are comparing the wrong tournaments, Mr. Smith.

  • greenandwhite on May 29, 2013, 3:26 GMT

    Though there are glaring differences in how players are paid, and in turn quality of both tournaments, they are both the consequence of how spectators believe them to be. These aren't two tournaments in which one side strives for excellence and the other is happy with mediocrity. The culture in India adores the star or the household name. After a few solid years in international cricket, a player is much harder to drop for India compared to England for example.

    An aging, underpreforming star still sells tickets and attracts large crowds. Even though Sachin didn't have a spectacular IPL, he still made crowds go wild whenever he walked out to the middle. In champions league football, the fans expect results and victories from their players.

    Owners of franchises couldn't drop stars who are not performing because it would be seen as a travesty by their home fans and would consequently result in a drop in ticket sales or profits. The invisible hand is the only factor to blame

  • on May 29, 2013, 3:51 GMT

    These comparisons unfortunately dont apply to cricket which is a money making business for many people. It really is a big ocean. Can anyone clean ocean. May be you can clean a pond. Your advise is like dropping buckets of water on a stone mountain.

  • RottPhiler on May 29, 2013, 3:54 GMT

    I don't watch football so I can't relate to the Champions League, but American sports leagues like the NBA and the NFL provide a similar yardstick. The overt capitalism and culture of winning is the most important factor to clean up the IPL. With restrictions on player salary especially uncapped Indian players, lack of a players union, lack of agents to negotiate a contract, lack of a trade window, all contribute to rewarding performance.

    When the league becomes all about rewarding performance, instead of rewarding 'big names', 'icon players', 'nayi soch', 'emerging uncapped player', and their various incarnations, then automatically the hunger and desire to perform will manifest itself. Reward performance not reputation.

  • RottPhiler on May 29, 2013, 3:56 GMT

    There are a lot of mysteries regarding the IPL. Why isn't the icon player's compensations determined by the market? Why would a Dhoni or a Tendulkar forgo a market determined salary while they watch Ravindra Jadeja get $2 Million from the market. Why would a Chris Gayle re-sign at the fixed rate of $550K without going back into the auction and getting rewarded with the maximum contract yet. Is there an independent audit ensuring that these players aren't paid unaccounted money? The rules need to be tightened.

  • on May 29, 2013, 5:00 GMT

    I am an avid cricket follower, and follow each result, although I hardly get to watch any cricket. I argue along the same lines with my friends about IPL and how it compares to club football. How can some days of T20 cricket be termed as a season? How can a player be contracted to multiple franchises of different T20 leagues? IPL makes absolutely no sense to me, and while people with no hint of international cricket being played at the same time were excitedly following IPL, I enjoyed following the Test matches between Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, which despite not being the best quality of cricket, was a superb contest. Most of those players will never play the IPL, but I will never rate an IPL match more than Test and ODI cricket, even if both teams had 11 international players.

  • on May 29, 2013, 5:11 GMT

    Brilliant analysis Mr. Smith. There are players like Steyn, DeVilliers who take IPL matches seriously but those, I think, are exceptions. There are aged players who are trying to be in the limelight for a little long and also earning good money on the basis of their reputation. This is not a good sign for the game.

  • on May 29, 2013, 5:22 GMT

    Ed you are an excellent writer and commentator. Champions League football is like you say the pinnacle of the game , some may argue even bigger than the football WC itself. Two things stand in the way of IPL. Firstly, it is a T20 tournament. Most ardent cricket fans will tell you T20 is not cricket. It is highly entertaining , lot of skills in all 3 departments but it does not have any of the fundamentals which the game was built upon. Lets take Rugby league for comparison. Rugby is similarly played by a small number of nations but league competitions are very good. The difference is the game is still rugby not a 7 a side or 50 yard rugby. T20 is a packaged form of cricket to attract new viewers and really does not cater for the existing cricket fans.

  • UglyIndian on May 29, 2013, 5:29 GMT

    I still remember the comment made by David Lloyd after Inter Milan beat the all conquering Barcelona in the 2010 Champions League Semi final first leg. He said something like, 'If you can watch Inter Milan vs Barcelona, why would you want to watch Chennai Chunders vs Delhi Drumsticks'. And I couldn't have agreed with him more. The quality of CL or even the top European leagues is incredibly higher than the fake, money-churning, endlessly pointless T-20 circus that is the IPL. To play cricket in the peak of summer in places like Jaipur, Delhi, Chennai etc is inhumane. Sadly, the league is run like every big corporate in India with a dictator at the top taking arbitrary decisions with the sole aim to mint as much money as possible before his illegal activities get exposed. I gave up watching IPL long ago, and infact have almost completely moved to football, with very little time for cricket. I still try to follow test matches, but thats about it. The BCCI has pretty much killed cricket.

  • on May 29, 2013, 5:33 GMT

    Brilliant piece! Football is more organised because not a lot international matches are played unlike cricket where boards hardly find the space in their calendars for it's players to play at lucrative leagues much unlike football.! If there was one thing I'd like to change, the IPL must be played over a year like the Champions League in football. Find a day or week or weekend every month where in your players can come in and play a match or two. It retains the allure as Indians are crazy for cricket throughout the year.