The Indian Premier League (IPL) just lost its most important sponsor on the heels of a match-fixing scandal.
According to the Financial Times, PepsiCo signed a five-year contract to sponsor the world’s biggest cricket league in 2012, but the company decided to end its sponsorship two years before the end of the contract. The deal was originally worth $US71 million (£46 million).
The IPL has been badly hit by corruption scandals in the six years since it launched, including, as the FT notes, a huge scandal in 2013. Lots of players and officials, including Sreesanth, one of India’s most famous stars, were arrested for fixing matches.
This summer, two of the eight teams in the tournament, the Chennai Superkings and the Rajasthan Royals, also got suspended from the tournament for two years, after another scandal about fixing games.
PepsiCo didn’t give any formal reason for why it stopped sponsoring the IPL, but at the start of the month, the Indian Express reported that the company had been in touch with the BCCI, Indian cricket’s governing body. Pepsi was worried the game was in “disrepute” according to the report.
Despite being pretty unknown in most of the world, cricket is by far India’s most popular sport, and the IPL is now its biggest and most-watched tournament. It is loosely based on American sporting tournaments like the NBA, with big franchises and a playoff system.
Many teams get financial backing from Indian celebrities, and superstar players from all over the world flock to India in April and May to play. Much of the IPL’s appeal comes from its glamour, and the short “Twenty20” format it uses. Twenty20s last about three hours, a lot less time than traditional cricket matches (which can run to up to five days at the international level) making them far more accessible and easy to watch for fans.
From next season, the IPL will be sponsored by Vivo Electronics, a Chinese phonemaker.
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