Harin Fernando, Country’s Sports Minister, Tuesday suspended former Sri Lanka Cricket Board (SLC) president Thilanga Sumathipala from holding his position as immediate past president until a final judgment on his eligibility following an inquiry, Cricket Age exclusively learns.
Further, an inquiry panel, chaired by director general Dhammika Muthugala, has been appointed under the Sports Law to investigate all the charges against Sumathipala and submit the report within one month.
Sumathipala, the self proclaimed messiah of Sri Lanka Cricket, is currently holding a position as immediate past President at SLC.
In the special directive, Sports Minister has clearly stated that from now onwards Sumathipala is not allowed to participate in any of the meeting of SLC and has instructed all the board office bearers to strictly follow the directive.
Last month, Harin Fernando had issued a gazette, 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 was 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.
In addition, ICC didn’t take much time in backing Harin’s gazette notification. Sally Clark, ICC’s senior legal consultant, immediately 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.
The suspension of Sumathipala was long due. However, previous Sports Minister couldn’t cope with the political pressure that Sumathipala had applied on them. However, Harin Fernando, as a Sports Minister, has written a new chapter of Sri Lanka Cricket by showing the courage to knock out Sumathipala from the cricket! Cricket Age understands that Harin has secured the backing of two top most politicians of the country to suspend Sumathipala from the game.