Cheat code activated? Here's how foreign players can play in IPL 2020
As visa restrictions have been imposed due to the coronavirus scare, the fate of the foreign players will be decided at Governing council meeting on 14th. But before that decision, here's how foreign players can participate in IPL 2020.
Social media went abuzz on Thursday as Press Information Trust (PTI) claimed that "a top BCCI source" told them that no foreign player will be available for this year's Indian Premier League (IPL) till April 15 due to visa restrictions imposed by the government to contain the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) threat.
This news paved way for a list of articles bemoaning the potential absence of superstars like AB De Villiers or Chris Gayle from the massively popular T20 league. The news, coupled with speculations of IPL being postponed or being played in empty stadiums caused panic among fans who had been eagerly waiting for the league.
The fate of the foreign players and the league itself will be decided on March 14 at the event's Governing Council meeting in Mumbai. BCCI President Sourav Ganguly had earlier assured that all preventive measures are being taken under the guidance of a team of experts to make sure that IPL 2020 is on track.
However there is a way foreign IPL players can participate in the tournament from March 29 itself. According to former team director of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Joy Bhattacharjya, be it a player playing for an IPL franchise or a support/coaching staff, they get work/employment visas which are an exception in the advisory released by the government of India.
"All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/International organisations, employment and project visas, stand suspended till 15th April 2020. This will come into effect from 1200GMT on 13th March 2020 at the port of departure," the statement from the government said.
Bhattacharjya said that this used to be the rule when he was the team director till 2014-15, and it's still the rule as confirmed with someone recently.
"The moment a player is taken in the auction or signed up, two letters go from here. Let's say 15 Australian players are coming to India, so the Indian High Commission in Australia will get a letter from the IPL authorities, stating that the following players have been signed up for the IPL and request them to make their work visa. Then there will be another letter from the franchise stating the same," said Bhattacharjya on Cricbuzz.
"All IPL visas are employment visas. Even for a support staff, who is not hired by the IPL, the letter goes from the franchise. The specific franchise will be sending a letter saying that this person will be part of our team and IPL too may back that up by sending a letter saying that this person is a part of the coaching staff of this franchise," Joy stated.
Though Bhattacharjya is of the opinion that IPL players and staff get work/employment visas, the same "top BCCI source" told PTI that "the foreign players who play in the IPL come under the business visa category. As per the government’s directive, they can’t come till April 15."
India Today also reported that Chennai Super Kings CEO Kasi Vishwanathan has said that most of the players are travelling with business visas. So, it will be impossible for them to join the teams unless the BCCI gets special permission.
While the speculations are running high around the IPL 2020, all eyes will be on the Governing Council meeting to be held on March 14th.