Sports Minister in another sideshow stunt the gallery has had enough | Sunday Observer

Sports Minister in another sideshow stunt the gallery has had enough

9 July, 2023
Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe: Nothing excites him more than a desk full of mikes and a room full of cameras
Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe: Nothing excites him more than a desk full of mikes and a room full of cameras

Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe, who is alien to the job like most of his predecessors, indulged in yet another media act playing his favourite game talking a load of hollow-swallow since he was installed in a Post that has become one of the most degraded portfolios in the country.

On Wednesday his media assistant emailed invitations to sports editors and followed it up with personal telephone calls to ensure reporters graced the occasion as if Minister Ranasinghe was finally ready to carry out his threat to clean up a rotten sports set-up in the island once and for all.

But all Minister Ranasinghe did was to play his old record and utter his same old litany that the country is likely to hear until Thy Kingdom Come whether the purists like it or not.

Speaking to a mixture of journalists from a variety of media outlets, some of whom knew it was a waste of time, energy and precious words, Minister Ranasinghe declared that the National Olympic Committee (NOC) is to blame for the international ban on the country’s rugby team over administrative bungling and that the Football Federation of Sri Lanka has become a pariah in the eyes of the world for the same reason and that he will work towards lifting the ban.

It left the discerning wondering whether a powerful and influential organization like FIFA, the world governing of football, will go into extremes to listen to stories of corruption and political bickering that they know too well in the island’s football set up, other than spare a thought for the innocent players who must now be uttering the native Sri Lankan age old jab “when elephants mount, we die”.

Minister Ranasinghe then goes on to dabble in cricket affairs whose officials successfully got him onto their side so as to seek another two-year term uncontested in May this year after he indirectly threatened them with an ouster in favour of an interim committee.

On Wednesday he repeated what he said before that a plane load of cricket officials will not be allowed to go on foreign tours and that the money will have to be channeled towards the welfare of school cricket.

Then having failed to take disciplinary action against cricketers who misbehaved at night clubs and casinos at the T20 World Cup in Australia in October/November last year, he told the media on Wednesday that members of a netball team will be severely punished if found guilty of disciplinary breach during a tour of South Korea in May.

It became obviously clear that the netball girls are soft targets when it comes to enforcing discipline to save somebody’s back and as for the cricketers, they are bigger than the game and cultivate people in high office who can shape them up in bad times.

The Minister’s rhetoric is such that he even chose not to call the common reference of an Interim Committee to replace the elected Sri Lanka Rugby office bearers and instead branded it a ‘Stabilization Committee’. Rugby was a stabilized sport for over a century in this country and today it has been sterilized of the illustrious names that played and administered the game.

On February 19 this year the Sunday Observer reported Minister Ranasinghe telling Sports Editors of several media organizations in his now superficial way: “Some of them (sports officials) come on a push cycle and leave in a Benz car and these people have made sports associations their private business. They steal the money that is meant for the welfare of children in sports. We have decided to change all this with new laws. Paper clubs are the root cause of corruption. We need new faces and new ideas in all sports associations and have decided it will be limited to two two-year terms”.

Three months ago on May 21 the Sunday Observer reported Minister Ranasinghe at a function in Ratnapura saying: “Football has fallen, rugby has fallen, cricket has fallen and all major sports have collapsed. The reason is a breakdown in the organization. We have to put forward a new work schedule”

By the time Minister Ranasinghe leaves office not able to match his words with deeds, the NOC and Sri Lanka Cricket will be stronger and harder while rugby, which despised a parasitic or leech-like existence thanks to the gentlemanly conduct of players and administrators of the past, will be the biggest loser in what has now become the Gravest Sporting Political Quagmire of the times.

His talk of changing what is called the Sports Law, like Ministers before him, is as old as the law itself.