SA cheerleader booted from IPL
Durban - An Indian Premier League cheerleader from Pietermaritzburg who was blogging about the fun - and flirting - behind the scenes in India was sent home after her identity as a secret blogger was revealed.
South African cheerleader Gabriella Pasqualotto (22) was soaking up the glitz, glamour and parties of the cricket hype that is IPL. She was dressed to the nines and drinking champagne when she wasn’t the focus of millions of adoring fans.
Pasqualotto was one of 40 local women chosen for the IPL cheerleading squad that went to India at the beginning of April.
She was chosen to cheer for the prestigious Mumbai Indians team. But last week she was sent home in shame. As IPL cheerleader, she wrote harmless chit-chat about her lifestyle, but she also alluded to the fact that cricketers are not so innocent at the match after-parties.
Her blogging comments allegedly caused “privacy concerns” among cricketers.
But Pasqualotto said this week the whole issue is hypocritical. She said that on arrival in India the girls were warned to behave and to adhere to certain team rules. They were told not to fraternise with the cricketers because it could affect their game performance.
But she said quite a few of the cheerleaders were known to have been “intimate” with some of the cricketers and celebrity sponsors. She told The Witness that she is angry and disappointed at the way she was treated by the IPL.
“On Tuesday last week I was sent home as if I was a criminal. I was treated as if I had taken drugs or done something awful, and I was never offered an opportunity to give my side of the story.”
Pasqualotto was put on the first flight out of India and she is still reeling. When she began the tour, she began to tweet comments about her experience. She was approached by a website - www.alternativecricket.com - whose editors asked her to blog for them.
After two blogs a fellow cheerleader tipped off the cricketers in the Mumbai Indians team and another cricketer went straight to the chairperson of the IPL, who gave a direct order to Pasqualotto’s manager that she must be sent home. She had no time to cash traveller’s cheques or even buy a phone card.
“It’s a joke. There were cameras everywhere at these after-parties watching what they got up to. The guys treated us like pieces of meat.
We couldn’t go anywhere without the crowds mobbing us and many of the girls did not behave. But nothing I wrote was directed at any one person. I think the cricketer [an Aussie] who complained had a guilty conscience.”
In her blog, which she was forced to remove, she wrote: “The men see your face, then your boobs, then your butt, then your boobs again! As we walk all you hear is IPL, IPL with a little head jingle.
“Ol Graeme Smith will flirt with anything while his girlfriend walks behind him. The Aussies are naughty, a certain someone played kissing catches with three girls known to me and had a girlfriend back home. He told them: ‘Come back to my room, I want to cuddle!’
“These cricketers are the most loose and mischievious I have come across. I have a long while still here so I must remember my tip list: Beware of the cricketers!”
She lost a month worth of earnings, almost R8 000, and feels betrayed by her fellow cheerleaders, who she says she could easily have named for breaking the rules.
“One day I am treated like a mini celebrity. People think you are like handmaidens to the ‘cricket-gods’, and then I am thrown out for a silly blog.”
She has received masses of support from followers of Twitter who believe the cricketers should behave and she should be compensated.
Michael Owen-Smith, media officer for Cricket South Africa, said that all South African cricketers are committed to a code of conduct and are expected to follow it whether they are playing at home or abroad.
He declined to comment on the issue, saying it was an IPL matter.
One can follow the discussions on Twitter: IPL girl.
Craig Livingstone, agent for Graeme Smith, said there is no reason to comment on the matter as there were no allegations that Smith was misbehaving.