“No Ball” – It’s Not Cricket – Match-Fixing Update

In the betting world of today, you can literally put a bet on anything, including 3 consecutive no-balls. This has led to allegations of match-fixing. Allegations made by the News of the World concerning corruption within the Pakistan team have taken the cricket world by storm. The allegations centred around three players from the Pakistan camp. Those involved were captain of the team Salman Butt, as well as the fast bowlers Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amir. Another individual allegedly induced in the scandal was Mazhar Majeed, a 35 year old sporting agent from Croydon. The allegations highlighted that three players may be involved in a betting scam relating to the fourth test match against England. The News of the World investigation claimed that the three Pakistan cricketers accepted bribes from Mr Majeed to intentionally under perform. According to The Guardian “It is alleged that three no-balls were bowled at prearranged times in the England innings. The News of the World alleged that the Pakistan players had agreed to bowl the no-balls” Although the International Cricket Council (ICC) has suspended the three individuals, they cannot pursue an inquiry into the allegations until the criminal investigation by Scotland Yard has taken place. The three players are at risk of facing a life ban after having been charged under Article Four of the anti-corruption code. Yesterday The Guardian reported that a second spot-fixing investigation is being made by the ICC in relation to the summers Asia Cup in Sri Lanka. They requested that Salman Butt and Pakistan’s wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal hand over records of mobile phone calls made during the Cup. It has been reported that the ICC’s anti corruption unit actually wrote to players before first spot-fixing allegations were made. Yet, according to The Independent, the ICC “denied that corruption was rife in the game” This is supported by head of the ICC’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit Sir Ronnie Flanagan, whom according to The Independent “said that he did not believe that malpractice was widespread in the game”. Yet they will have to work much harder when trying to change the public’s perception of the sport, influenced in part from recent events. Sir Ronnie dismissed claims that the ICC could have acted earlier, as they had to observe their own code before acting upon the allegations. The Independent quotes him explaining that the ICC cannot act arbitrarily, and that a strong case must exist before an investigation can be made. However, it would be unfair to single out cricket as being the only sport that has had problems with corruption and issues of illegal gambling. Most sports have had their fair share of scandals. According to Sky News sources, Snooker’s current number one John Higgins and his manager have recently been accused of match-fixing. It was suggested by News of the World that they had agreed to throw frames at a future tournament in return for 300,000 Euros. However today it has been reported Higgins has been cleared of match-fixing by an independent tribunal. However he will still face a six month suspension, as well as receiving a fine of £75,000 for bringing the sport into disrepute. What is clear is the important role which the media play in exposing match fixing and whilst hard to prove, the tough line approach adopted by tribunals to protect the sport.

Published September 10, 2010

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