87% citizens surveyed believe retired sportspersons critical to national and state sports federations: Only 13% support involvement of politicians
- ● 48% indicated that “they should have only retired sportspersons in these federations” and 26% favour “retired sportsperson and in-service bureaucrats in equal proportion”
- ● LocalCircles survey receives 22,000 responses from 301 districts of India
December 25, 2023, New Delhi: The Sports Ministry of India last week suspended the newly formed Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) body led by politician Sanjay Singh citing that the decisions made by the newly elected executive body disregarded established legal and procedural norms. This move was followed by olympic medal winner Sakshi Malik announcing her retirement from wrestling following the election of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh's alleged loyalist Sanjay Singh as the Wrestling Federation of India's president. International wrestler Sangeeta Phogat had expressed fears that women wrestlers “will be harassed again” while wrestler and olympics medal winner Bajrang Punia also returned his Padma Shri given the state of affairs at the federation.
Whether it is cricket, hockey, football or athletics, sportsmen and women have many stories of valor to narrate. But many times, their dream goal of becoming champions on the Indian and international arena is marred by frequent harassment. This year has witnessed long sit-in protests in the national capital by wrestlers with world championship medalists Vinesh Phogat, Deepak Punia and Olympics medalists Ravi Dahiya, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik seeking action against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and federation officials for sexual harassment and financial misconduct.
Professional boxers also took to social media early this year to post videos with comments that the Boxing Federation is no better than the Wrestling Federation. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on January 20, this year announced the formation of a seven-member committee to probe the allegations of sexual harassment. Last year three sports federations — the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI), the All-India Football Federation (AIFF), and Hockey India — were brought under a court-appointed committee of administrators (COA), putting a question mark on their functioning.
As India’s thirsts for more laurels in sports, LocalCircles has conducted a survey to seek citizen’s views on how various national and state federations, currently headed by politicians, should be governed so that sportspersons get the best support to hone their talent and realize their dream of winning medals for themselves and their country. The survey received over 22,000 responses from citizens located in 301 districts of India. 65% respondents were men while 35% respondents were women. 41% respondents were from tier 1, 32% from tier 2 and 27% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
48% indicating that “they should have only retired sportspersons in these federations” and 26% indicated “they should have retired sportsperson and in-service bureaucrats in equal proportion”
The survey first asked respondents, “How should these sports federations be structured according to you?” Over 11,000 citizens responded to the query with 48% indicating that “they should have only retired sportspersons in these federations” and 26% indicated “they should have retired sportsperson and in-service bureaucrats in equal proportion”. Of the remaining respondents 13% indicated that while having politicians and bureaucrats only “a retired sportsperson” should head the federations; 11% didn’t favour any of the above solutions and 2% of respondents gave no clear response. In sum, 87% citizens’ surveyed support a prominent role for retired sportsperson in the federations and only 13% favour some role for politicians in the national and state federations.
71% felt having retired sportsperson at the helm of federations will lead to “significant improvement” in performance in international sporting events; 26% indicated there will be “some improvement”
The survey then asked respondents, “Do you believe the selection and performance of Indian contingent in various international sporting championships (Olympics, Asian, Commonwealth Games) will improve if retired sports persons are made in charge of various sporting federations?” Out of nearly 11,000 respondents to this query 71% felt there will be “significant improvement”; 26% indicated there will be “some improvement” and 3% gave no firm reply. To sum up, 71% citizens surveyed believe that if retired sportspersons are made in-charge of sports federations, performance of India in various international sports would improve significantly.
In summary, it is clear that 97% citizens see some or significant merit in having retired sportsperson heading national and state sport federations. As the Sports Ministry provides significant resources to these federations, retired senior sportspersons should have the primary say in how these bodies are being governed to safeguard the young sportspersons in the academies under the federations. Tales of sexual harassment, corruption, nepotism, and unfairness should have no place in sports world. With the latest move of suspending the Wrestling Federation of India, the Sports Ministry has taken a step in the right direction, however for the change to be structural and long term, the Government must seriously consider acting on the recommendations of the people and ideally have no politicians involved in any sporting federations.
The survey received over 22,000 responses from citizens located in 301 districts of India. 65% respondents were men while 35% respondents were women. 41% respondents were from tier 1, 32% from tier 2 and 27% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.