I have been made a scapegoat: Raj Kundra

New Delhi, June 10 (IANS) Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra Monday slammed the Indian cricket board for making him a scapegoat and suspending him on unsubstantiated reports of betting in the Indian Premier League (IPL), and vowed to fight it.

In a strongly-worded statement, Kundra, a British national, said he has faith in the Indian justice system and would fight to clear his name.

The board, at an emergency meeting here of its working committee, took cognisance of Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar’s assertion last week that Kundra betted regularly during IPL and suspended the Rajasthan Royals co-owner from all cricketing activities pending an inquiry.

“Mr. Raj Kundra has been suspended pending an inquiry. We reached this conclusion after Neeraj Kumar grilled him for 11 hours after which he confessed to betting,” said Jagmohan Dalmiya, holding the fort in the absence of board president N. Srinivasan, who last week decided to step aside till the completion of the probe into his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan’s alleged betting in IPL matches.

Kundra lambasted both the board and the media for making “accusations without proof”.

“All those who know me are aware that sport is my first love. I own a minority 11.7 percent share in Rajasthan Royals as well as a majority share of the Super Fight League in India which has become the largest MMA league in Asia within a year of its launch,” Kundra said in a statement.

“It shocks, saddens and hurts me when my integrity towards Sport is questioned, especially knowing that there are very few who have taken the initiative and been successful in the development of sport in India.”

“All sorts of accusations were made against me without proof, by people in powerful positions. It is sad that without accurate facts, I am being made a scapegoat and put under trial by the media based on unproved claims,” he added.

Kundra said that if he wanted to bet being an NRI he would have done so abroad at a place where betting was legal.

He said most difficult part of the decision to marry Shilpa was the fact that she did not want to leave India and so he made the choice to moving to India out of love for her.

“I made the choice of moving to India initially out of love for her, but have over the years fallen in love with India and all that comes with it. I am afraid that rampant corruption at different levels would serve a deterrent for foreign investors who may otherwise be willing to invest in India.

“People need to realise that as a British national and NRI, IF I wanted to bet I could have done so off-shore on ANY betting website legally. However I did not do so as the IPL contract as per ACSU rules clearly states that owners cannot bet on the IPL,” he said.

Kundra also said that he had made suggestions to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for including owners in the decision-making of the IPL. However, it was ignored.

“In many BCCI meetings, I have often suggested that team-owners be given a seat on the IPL governing board so that owners are involved in decision-making, as in many international sports bodies. Us owners are the ones heavily invested in the IPL and should have a voice in its functioning. However, till date no team-owner’s body has been welcomed.

“I am shocked and upset at the unilateral decision taken today by the BCCI and will fight the grounds of suspension. I further clarify that this is my view and is not related to any other share-holders or owners of Rajasthan Royals.”

“I close by saying I trust in Justice and India.”

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