Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Real or fake? Breathe easy, Team India lifted the right Cup

NEW DELHI: The nation had its mouth wide open in indignation, ready to yell "BETRAYAL" just as the clarifications started to come in fast and furious. Breathe easy, they all said, MS Dhoni had lifted the right World Cup trophy, not a fake one. 

Monday morning brought the chilling "news". The real ICC World Cup, claimed a newspaper, had been detained by Customs officials. Dhoni and his intrepid warriors had been given a dummy. Lending credence to the news were two facts - one, the 2003 trophy that Ponting and his boys held was different from the one with the Men in Blue; and two, a trophy had indeed been detained by MumbaiCustoms. 

So, did the Customs babus lose all their common sense and pull out some obscure list of duty exempted goods to deny our champions their hard-fought right to lift the original trophy? Was this yet another instance of suffocating red-tape cheating the players and the people of the opportunity to hold and behold the Real One? 

As the questions came angry and fast, the Customs department came out with a technical explanation. It said this particular trophy being carried into India by two ICC officials was not in the list of ICC goods exempted from duty; hence it was detained and duty was levied on it. However, the ICC said it would not pay and instead carry the trophy back to Dubai

Soon, the ICC came out with a statement clarifying that Team India had been given the right trophy, the 'recognized trophy' for the winners of World Cup 2011. It said the 'perpetual trophy' had been detained by the Customs. This 'perpetual trophy' was given to winners until the 2003 edition of the Cup. 

Australia, the 2003 winner, didn't like the idea of having to give back a Cup that it had won. Hence, said the ICC, a new system was devised. Both in 2007 and 2011, the 'perpetual trophy' was used only for promotional purposes and the winner was given a trophy specially made for that particular edition of the World Cup. No one had been cheated, said the ICC, nothing really had gone amiss. 

If the 'perpetual trophy' had no role to play, why was it being brought into Mumbai for the final? Was the ICC trying to cover up? Was it that, like many trophies, the 'perpetual trophy' was the running trophy, to be presented at the ceremonial award ceremony, and after the victory lap, taken back and a replica given to the winner? 

No, said ICC president Sharad Pawar. He insisted to TOI that the perpetual trophy was only for promotional purposes. In this case, it had been taken for display at the Colombo semifinal, while the other was at Mohali for display at the India-Pakistan match, he said. ICC Cup coordinatorDhiraj Malhotra said the same. 

A search of World Cup pictures of the 2003, 2007 and 2011 seemed to bear out the ICC version. The 2003 Cup is indeed different from the 2007 and 2011 trophies. 

The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) also moved in by evening to clarify that the trophy had been retained by the Customs at the ICC's request. It said two passengers, Emma Waiteand Rixon Heyder, brought it in from Colombo as part of their "personal baggage". It was not part of the list of items temporarily imported by ICC and hence exempt from duties. ICC itself had written saying that the trophy in question was not to be used for any purpose inside India, said the CBEC. 

The Customs added that "in order to remove all doubts the concerned customs officers contacted ICC tournament director Ratnakar Shetty and enquired about the said trophy so that appropriate action could be taken expeditiously and the matter resolved." And Shetty wrote back saying, "We hereby request your office to hold the trophy in the customs warehouse at the airport until it is collected by the above passengers." 

However, Dhiraj Malhotra had an interesting twist to give to this baffling controversy. He said this 'perpetual trophy', now at a Customs warehouse, had gone in and out of the country several times during the tournament. "I myself carried it to Mumbai from Bangladesh after the inaugural match. So, I don't know why it was detained this time," he told TOI. 

If this was really the case, why did the Customs act this time? Was it sheer cussedness? Said BCCIvice president Rajeev Shukla: "How can the Customs people do this? There must be a relook at laws on international trophies and medals. How can there be a duty on them?" How indeed?

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/cricket/cricket-world-cup-2011/news/Real-or-fake-Breathe-easy-Team-India-lifted-the-right-Cup/articleshow/7870210.cms

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