Cricket Board Chairman Shammi Silva sparked controversy in a press conference at Sri Lanka Cricket today (11), accusing the Sports Minister of corruption and expressing his intent to involve the International Cricket Council (ICC). Silva vehemently defended his innocence and challenged the integrity of the minister.
“I gave him 2900 lakhs to spend on sports. He spent this money on his friends. Ask him to audit this,” Silva declared, highlighting financial discrepancies and demanding a thorough investigation.
“It is not about losing matches. But about calling us thieves. The minister should look in the mirror and see who the real thief. You can go to court and start an investigation. Do an audit. We will not leave this country. We will not give up. It is the minister who is the thief.”
“The minister sent a letter asking us to send 20% of our income to his ministry. We refused to do so and that was the first reason he started getting angry with us.”
In response to the strained relationship with the minister, Silva declared his intention to secure a certificate from the President, a move he believes would secure him a position at the ICC. He vowed to hold the minister accountable, asserting that the minister’s perceived arrogance would not go unchallenged.
“Cricket in the country is lost not because of us, but because of one politician. A single person lies and others nod their heads and say yes, without looking into it. They just believe what he says. That is what caused this problem.”
“The power of the minister should be reduced. The game cannot be developed with this power… If a minister like this comes,” Silva emphasized, expressing concerns about political interference hindering the growth of cricket.
Silva raised apprehensions about potential financial losses, estimating at least $50 million if the ICC does not intervene. He called for the ICC to address the situation promptly.
Addressing accusations of player selection interference, Silva defended himself, stating, “We sent Dushmantha Chamira and Vanindu on the 15th. But when the minister asked for the fitness test, he asked us to remove those two names from the list and send it.”
Amidst the controversy, Silva expressed frustration with the political focus on cricket rather than addressing pressing national issues.
The chairman pledged to fight vigorously within the ICC, expressing a commitment to the cause. He clarified misconceptions, including not going to India and refuting claims of consuming alcohol.
However, it is important to note that, Silva’s involvement in India and his involvement in asking the ICC to ban Sri Lanka Cricket was reported by Cricinfo, ESPN’s prominent sports channel.
In response to the cricket ban request, the ICC has officially stated that Sri Lanka will not receive dollar funds until the end of December due to the suspension of international matches.
To watch the press conference: Facebook Live