Cricket Corruption ‘not out’

Sport, nationalism, politics, business and entertainment. All are the aspects of cricket. An unfortunate addition to the list is corruption, which threatens the integrity of “the gentleman’s game”.

Like the great batsman Sachin Tendulkar corruption seems not to leave the field. Ever since the exposure of cricket legend Hansie Cronje’s involvement in match fixing in 2000, more and more incidents have occurred.

As a cricket fan I was not surprised by the recent incident of match-fixing involving six umpires during the cricket World Cup.  Though initially shocking, such incidents have now become regular and reflect the sad state of affairs in cricket. My colleague on fellow cricket fan Rukshana Nanayakkara has written about these scandals in greater length in the Sri Lankan press.

According to the sport’s governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), corruption is mainly driven by a vast, illegal and mafia-run gambling industry; around $50 billion of illegal bets are placed on cricket matches each year.

An Indian TV investigation conducted ahead of the world cup revealed video clips in which umpires were allegedly shown to be willing to give certain decisions and disclose important information in exchange for money.

While the ICC probes the matter it was clarified that none of the umpires named were part of any official game in the world cup. However, there is a deeper issue for the sport: the growth in commercialization of cricket, which has created more scope for, and increased the dimensions of, corruption.

Cricket’s changing format, the greater involvement of private sector stakeholders and technological development have all increased the threats of corruption, in the forms of online gambling and spot fixing, when some players fix certain parts of the game, not the entire match.

Involvement of players in match fixing during the 2012 Indian Premier League and Pakistan spot fixing scandal in 2010 were other recent incidents which confirmed that apparent need for more transparency in the operation of the cricketing activities is awaited.

An evident gap is the lack of guidelines and procedures for dealing with corruption allegations in cricket. Nor are there enforceable penalties for those found guilty.

Sometimes cricketers are dealt with heavily, like the case of three Pakistani cricketers who received jail sentences in a British criminal court in November 2011 for their involvement in spot fixing. However the overall system lacks accountability, operating as it is without any set of rules or guidelines.

This despite the fact that Transparency International has proposed 20 recommendations for reform.

A joint effort of ICC, cricket boards in different countries and local laws are necessary to stop the external mediators influencing the game.

Corruption is poses a big threat to the integrity of the gentlemen’s game and strongly affects the attachment we the fans feel with it. The ICC is making efforts to fight corruption in the game; nevertheless there is a need for more definite and visible steps so as not to disappoint the millions of cricket fans, including me, who expect a fair play.

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Soumya Saxena

About Soumya Saxena

Soumya works in the Asia Pacific Department of Transparency International.

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8 Responses to Cricket Corruption ‘not out’

  1. Ishan 6 November 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    Love the title “Cricket Corruption ‘not out’”.

    And yes, its truly unfortunate such instances are becoming increasingly common….

  2. Prachi 6 November 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    nice!! gave some food for thought.. it is high time to bring about some reforms..

  3. Freya 6 November 2012 at 9:20 pm #

    At a time when India seems to be busy fighting corruption within the political system, your article reminded me of the fact that corruption has seeped into almost every aspect of life. I don’t know how far reforms and laws will go to help corruption because lets face it, honesty is something that comes from within. Laws cannot impose honesty from the outside.

  4. Raza 7 November 2012 at 1:46 am #

    Very well written Soumya.Corruption is a menace in all walks of life, business and sports in the subcontinent.Unfortunately, solutions seems to be too distant.

  5. Parvez 7 November 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    Good article! Corruption has engulfed almost everybody.

  6. Ashima Srivastava 11 November 2012 at 1:55 am #

    excellent read…. its sad to see corruption in sports. People will stop watching cricket and loose interest jut like most of us have lost interest in politics

  7. Minha 11 November 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    Kudos for bringing the subject again on the table. Unfortunately,cricket is not the only diseased game.LIke last years jwala gutta charges this tumor keeps emerging in all the games.Its time that stringent laws are made not only by states but also by games authorities worldwide.Back in India, Azhar uddin would have found great difficulty had our process been speedy and transparent

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