Sri Lanka cricketers duped by racketeers | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka cricketers duped by racketeers

8 November, 2020

Cricketers in Sri Lanka desperate for rich pickings have been lured with promises of lucrative contracts in Australia and then swindled financially by unscrupulous agents posing as authorized representatives, the Herald Sun newspaper has revealed.

Several unnamed Sri Lanka players along with young players from other countries hoping to strike it rich through cricket have fallen victim to the tricksters according to the report in the Herald Sun.

“Grassroots cricket is facing a scandal of epic proportions as reports emerge of unscrupulous agents faking statistics and demanding thousands of dollars from overseas players to help them secure sports visas to Australia,” the report said.

A Herald Sun special investigation has revealed overseas players have been asked to hand over up to $10,000 to Australian agents as payment for help in obtaining visas and places in suburban cricket teams in Victoria, amid allegations player statistics are being doctored to aid entry.

The report further said that some players fail to receive club payments they are entitled to once they reach Australia with agents pocketing the money.

“In other cases Sri Lankan players have been crammed into accommodation organised by their agent, with one report of up to 17 people squeezed into a three-bedroom house, each paying rent. Yet other players say they have never seen their contracts, with one Victorian sports agent slamming rogue colleagues,” the Herald Sun further highlighted.

Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria said they were “deeply concerned” by the allegations, brought to light by the Herald Sun.

“There is no place for the mistreatment of players who come to play cricket in Australia, at any level. The alleged behaviour of so-called ‘player agents’ is deeply concerning, and is not something that Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria condone in any way.

“We take these allegations very seriously and will be taking immediate action to support any investigation and the players involved,” the Herald Sun quoted a spokesman as saying.

It’s understood Australian Border Force is now also making inquiries, on the back of the Herald Sun’s investigation and could refer the matter to Australian Federal Police.

Some players have forked out large sums to agents to come to Australia to play cricket. The Herald Sun has been told player statistics are sometimes falsified in profiles “at the Sri Lankan end”, to show young men have a history of playing first class cricket in their home country, in order to get Cricket Australia’s tick of approval.

The paper has also been told agents in Australia sometimes take player payments as “deductions” for services they claim to have provided, or costs they claim to have incurred, on behalf of players.

A 23-year old player from Sri Lanka who was caught up in the scam and pleaded with the Herald Sun not to reveal his name because of the repercussions he could face, said up to 70 cricketers from the island have fallen prey to the unscrupulous agents.

He was quoted in the paper as saying that they had paid money to the tune of 10,000 Australian dollars to secure the playing contracts.