Sumathipala’s Game Officially Over, As Sports Minister Harin Fernando Sends Directive To barred individuals with betting connections

Written by N Krishnamurthy

Harin Fernando, Sri Lanka Sports Minister, on Tuesday (August 27) issued a general directive to country’s all Sports bodies, with instructions to ensure compliance with new amendments in the Sports Law that prevents any official from holding the position who has direct or indirect involvement in betting and gambling.

Cricket Age has the access of the Sports Minister’s directive, that reads:

“All Sports Federations

General directive under section of Sports Law act no. 25 of 1973

This is to inform you that in the terms of Sports regulations made by me as the minister of Sports under section 41 read with section 31 of the Sports Law no. 25 of 1973 and it’s amendments.

02. I hereby officially notice you as follows:

National associations of Sports regulations gazette notification no. 2137/85 on 23rd August 2019.

National associations of Sports regulations gazette notification no. 2137/86 on 23rd August 2019.

03. You are therefore required to ensure compliance with the above, including by ensuring that the composition of the committee of your association is in accordance with the law.

04. Necessary amendments to the constitution should also be made forthwith.

Earlier, Harin Fernando had issued a gazette on Friday (August 23) amending the National Association of Sports Regulations to ensure that anyone–or any member of his immediate family (being a spouse, parent, sibling, son or daughter or son-in-law or daughter-in-law)–who has an interest in “betting, gaming or wagering, or in a betting gaming or wagering organisation or is employed in the day to day operations of such organisation or organizations” is disqualified from holding office.

With this directive, Sri Lanka Cricket Board (SLC) former President Thilanga Sumathipala’s game has officially been over. It is clear the regulation is directed at Sumathipala who has publicly admitted to his family’s involvement in the betting business but managed to hold office given the ambiguity of the previous regulations. But the new law is well in line with the International Cricket Council’s newly amended Code of Ethics which requires its directors to have no connection whatsoever to gaming and betting industries.

This is a death blow to Sumathipala, the self-proclaimed godfather of Sri Lankan cricket whose dream of getting elected to the highest chair in the ICC now seems shattered. Not only will the local regulation freeze him completely out of the game, the ICC’s new rules will shut him out of its board meetings even if domestic laws are changed in future.

Most importantly, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has also backed Harin Fernando’s amendment IN the Sports Law. Sally Clark, ICC’s senior legal consultant, on Thursday (Augu 22) wrote to the Ministry of Sports referencing the ICC’s Code of Ethics on Relationships with Betting Organisations which states no director should be connected to the betting or gaming industry.

Cricket Age understands that after Harin Fernando’s today’s directive, now Sumathipala is not eligible to hold his position at SLC also. Even though he did not contest the SLC election few months ago, he is still holding a position as immediate past President.

“After today’s directive by Honorable Sports Minister, Sumathipala is automatically disqualified for holding immediate past President position at SLC” a top Sports Ministry official told Cricket Age.

The next SLC Executive committee (ExCo) meeting is scheduled for next week (earlier it was scheduled for August 30) and after Sports Minister’s directive, now Sumathipala can’t attend the meeting!


About the author

N Krishnamurthy