Jail terms will deter fixers, say experts
CORRUPTION: NEW DELHI, Nov 5 (AFP) - Cricket's spot-fixing scandal
and its unprecedented jail terms have battered the sport's credibility,
but experts say the case will eventually benefit what was once known as
a gentlemen's game.
The sentences handed out to three Pakistani players, Salman Butt,
Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif, and their agent Mazhar Majeed for
spot-fixing during the 2010 Lord's Test against England have stunned the
But India's World Cup-winning captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said he
had no sympathy for fixers.
"It's the worst thing you can do while representing your country," he
It is not the first time that the cricket world has been rocked by
scandal. In 2000, match-fixing led to life bans for Test captains Hansie
Cronje (South Africa), Mohammad Azharuddin (India) and Salim Malik
But cricketers had never previously been sent to jail for corrupt
practices - something that could make players think twice before they do
deals with shady bookmakers.Popular cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle
said the scandal would serve as a wake-up call for players,
administrators and fans.
"I fear this might lead to more cynicism, a greater feeling that
games, or moments, are fixed," he said.
"It may be a bad day for Butt and company, but it may not be such a
bad day for cricket. Cricketers can now see what may happen."
Respected cricket writer Peter Roebuck agreed the jail sentences of
between six and 32 months, handed out in London on Thursday, would help
"Detection is difficult, but deterrence has more chance of success,"
Roebuck wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald."Events in Southwark Crown
Court and subsequent sentences will help cricket to clean up its act.
Those contemplating corruption might not be worried about suspensions
but might baulk at a long stint behind bars."The International Cricket
Council (ICC) had previously banned all three players for five years,
which they are appealing against.
That the scandal was unearthed by a sting operation by the
now-defunct News of the World newspaper highlights the apparent failure
of the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU). The ACSU was set
up in 2000 when, in the ICC's own words, "cricket's reputation and
integrity were tarnished and in danger of being destroyed".
The unit was headed by former London Metropolitan police chief Paul
Condon until June last year, when he retired and was replaced by another
senior former British policeman, Ronnie Flanagan.
The ICC has defended the anti-corruption unit, which posts officers
at every international match played around the world, saying the ACSU
did not have powers to arrest culprits or send them to jail.
Hope administrators will take action
Bhogle said he hoped the sport's administrators would take strict
measures to enforce their stated policy of zero-tolerance on corruption,
but refused to blame the ICC alone for the current situation.
"The easy way out is to attack the ICC," he said. "But it does not
have the power to send people to jail or to launch a sting of the kind
the News of the World did. "However tame it might seem, education, and
stringent punishment in the face of evidence, is about as far as they
can go." Cricket's dark underbelly, plagued by underworld match-fixing
gangs who reportedly bet millions of dollars at virtually every match,
remains a constant threat to the sport.
Indian police regularly bust betting rings across the country when
cricket internationals are played, but offenders often get off lightly.
India's CBI gave warning
India's Central Bureau of Investigation gave a prescient warning
about the underworld's links with cricket when it probed the
match-fixing scandal in 2000.