Thilanga Sumathipala, the embarrassingly discarded former president of Sri Cricket Board (SLC) defied the orders (gazette and directive) of being disqualified to continue to hold his position as immediate past President by attending board’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Sunday.
Sports Minister Harin Fernando had issued a gazette last week 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.
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.
However, Sumathipala is still trying to run away from the Sports law by dismissing the newly published gazette and has indicated to continue as Immediate past President at board.
In order to make his resistance loud and clear, Sumathipala attended today’s AGM, which was a continuation of last meeting on May 12, as SLC were failed to table the audited accounts at that time.
Interestingly, Sports Ministry’s representative, Auditor General department’s representative were also present at the meeting, however no one objected disqualified Sumathipala’s presence.
Also, Sumathipala seems determined to take the matter in court. Cricket Age understands that after Sports Ministry gazette, Sumathipala is mulling over to file Fundamental Right (FR). By doing all these, he is clearly disobeying Sports Law.
“This amendment to the Sports Law took place after I was officially appointed to the Ex-Co in 2018. This does not apply to me. This amendment will be effective when appointing the next Ex-Co, something similar to the 19th Amendment to the country’s constitution, a privilege similar to what President Sirisena enjoys at present. I will take this matter up in courts” a close associate of Sumathipala told Cricket Age.