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Match Fixing Saga

06 September, 2010

By Amjad Malik


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News of the world’s undercover report and latest revelations on spot & match fixing involving Pakistani Cricket players have startled the cricketing world. It is turning out to be a deadly development for the mainstream Cricket, and is disappointing for the those millions who watch on TV and take interest in this great game and for those who go one step ahead and pay, travel and watch it live at the ground expecting a fair and competitive match.

Those accused of conspiracy to defraud the book makers risk being charged under s.1&5 Criminal Law Act 1977 and may be sentenced up to 10 years if found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a court of law. However, ICC regulatory body as well as anti corruption units will be closely watching the video evidence and Pakistan runs a risk to receive some sort of rebuke to curtail and deter corrupt practices if damage control exercise does not take place sooner than later. Bringing the game into disrepute allegation on the balance of probabilities will remain hanging on the head of those accused players and will be easier to prove.

It is my humble opinion that in principle all criminal and ICC investigations must be cooperated by Govt, PCB and players. Players must be provided full legal support and if they feel they are innocent, they must take action as a group privately where state is not a party against the NOTW (News of the World) for defamation in the high court in Strand. In all Scotland Yard enquiries, they must be given the benefit of the presumption that they are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law. Mazhar Majeed’s role must be critically analysed ad scrutinised to rule out his role of a coercive whistle blower, so as the role of NOTW reporter to rule out any targeted victimisation.

Dishonesty, direct link between parties who agree to commit crime, money changing hands, and identification of the potential victims and quantity of loss are the potential questions to be answered before the charge of conspiracy to defraud bookies is to be proven by state prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt. It is a difficult task, and entrapment is visible in the story, but in UK this sort of practice is permitted with a caveat if it is in public interest and exposes a criminal outfit, mafias or corrupt practices. Many are victims but mostly understand the need to keep a check on certain practices and sting operation is the only viable route to catch red handed.

In the interest of curtailing damage to the country’s repute and the game, those named players in the report must be replaced with the fresh faces, so that the future games and results are devoid of any doubts of any match fixing allegation. If the players are cleared of any wrong doing only then, they must be allowed to join the national team after going through a vetting process by a committee of PCB. Pakistan Cricket Board must act responsibly as delay tactics with inaction may cost Pakistan their place in international Cricket as looking at the evidence it seems there is a prima facie allegations of a spot fixing, if it goes further to a match fixing is yet to be probed.

PCB as a governing body must act vigilantly and remain distanced from the accused players. If little late, they may delay the proceedings for a while but God forbid if the players are found guilty in the end, the loss will be of state if PCB remained adamant and partisan ignoring the crucial facts & evidence. Their machinery of discipline must come in action. If the board wishes a head on collision with the newspaper (News of the World) by suing for defamation, then they must first know what the paper knows, only then, there is a cause of a case in such lines, otherwise defamation too must be left on individual players who are named in the story. 

Policy in relation to flag carriers must be strict, needs to be explained to the players who represent the state and there must be no compromise and leniency with those who flout the law, rules and regulation and honour for money. Pakistan as a state needs to look at ‘corruption’ with a new mind set, contempt and a sheer will to deter corrupt practices in all ranks and file and it needs to introduce a practical legislation coupled with a judicial forum which adjudicate such elements and bring them to account so that the message is strong and no one could get through the net through coercive measures as is the case in the immediate past, otherwise tomatoes, eggs, and shoes will be hurled at the heroes who dig our heads in sands with shame due to their poor actions.

 

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