The Board of Control for Cricket in India on Thursday confirmed they have suspended the IPL title sponsorship deal with Chinese mobile giant VIVO for this year's Indian Premier League amid widespread anti-China sentiment in India.
"The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and vivo Mobile India Pvt Ltd have decided to suspend their partnership for Indian Premier League in 2020," BCCI said in a media release.
The IPL, which was moved out of India due to the COVID-19 outbreak, will be held in the UAE from September 19 to November 10 this year.
In 2017, VIVO had retained the IPL title sponsorship rights for five years from 2018 to 2022 with a whopping Rs 2,199 crore bid.
Chinese sponsorship became a bone of contention after the BCCI declared it would review the deals following the violent clashes between the armies of both the countries in eastern Ladakh.
The clash, which led to the killing of 20 Indian soldiers, triggered public outrage and led to calls of boycotting Chinese companies and products.
There were questions raised on the BCCI's decision to retain Chinese sponsors even as the union government banned close to 60 Chinese apps and social media platforms.
The new development is in stark contrast to what came out of Sunday's IPL's Governing Council meeting, where it was decided that VIVO, along with all other sponsors, will remain on board.
However, after the meeting, there was a huge backlash on social media about BCCI holding on to VIVO.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated Swadeshi Jaagran Manch attacked the BCCI over the decision and called on all Indians to boycott the IPL which will be staged in the UAE next month.
"Indians are not saying they do not want to see the IPL; they just do not want to see the IPL if VIVO is the sponsor," Swadeshi Jaagran Manch Co-Convenor Professor Ashwani Mahajan told Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier in an exclusive interview.
BCCI and VIVO are now working out a plan in which the latter might come back for a fresh three-year period starting 2021 on revised terms. However, a top BCCI official offered a different view.
"Here we are talking about diplomatic tensions and you expect that after November, when IPL ends and before the next IPL starts in April 2021, there would be no anti-China sentiment? Are we serious?" a veteran BCCI official told PTI.
The end of this deal could spell losses for the franchises as they get a substantial share from the sponsorship pool.
Half of the annual VIVO sponsorship money is distributed equally among eight franchises which comes to Rs 27.5 crore.
"As of now, it will be very difficult for the BCCI to match the sponsorship amount at such short notice. Therefore both BCCI and the franchises should be prepared to lose out on some money -- BCCI more but each franchise from Vivo's exit will potentially lose 15 crore," the official said.
"This year will be difficult for everyone but the show must go on."