The Bane Of Match- Fixing
“The earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”
It appears that more money fuels the desire of more money. Cricketers, who earn more money than most of the public servants, have been caught with their pants down by Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai Police. I must hasten to add that it is not really the work or job of the police to catch sportsmen, indulging in thievery and ruining the public trust, in the game. It is the work of the sports bosses, who run such games as personal fiefdoms.
The stink of match-fixing by IPL players at present only confined to Rajasthan Royals is getting wider and wider, extending over the major parts of the country. Unfortunately, the fixing of the game is not confined to India, but is rather widespread. The simplest definition of match-fixing in sports is the action or practice of dishonestly determining the outcome of a match before it is played.
In 2010, Salman Butt (captain), Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Amir- all Pakistani cricketers, were found guilty and sentenced to jail for their involvement in spot-fixing in a match against England in 2010. They were reported to have conspired to bowl no balls at the predetermined times of the game.
Others who have been involved in cricket match-fixing included Mervyn Westfield of Essex in 2012, an English county player representing Essex, was sentenced to jail after he accepted of pocketing £6,000 to underperform in a match against Durham in 2009.
Marlon Samuels of West Indies was charged with match-fixing in 2008 for disclosing information about his team’s tactics. He was banned for two years from all formats of the game.
Earlier, Hansie Cronje, the captain of South African cricket team was charged with fixing One-Day International matches against India in 2000. The police intercepted and released transcripts of a conversation between the South African captain and a bookmaker that implicated him of rigging the matches. A court of inquiry was set up and Cronje admitted to throwing the matches. He was immediately banned from all format of cricket. He also named Saleem Malik of Pakistan, Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja of India involved in the sordid saga. Jadeja was banned for four years. As a kingpin, Cronje later confessed to accepting money from bookies in exchange for match information and asking some players to underperform. He was banned for life by the South Africa Cricket Board. Other prominent South African players were also linked to the scandal, including Herschelle Gibbs and Nicky Boje.
Among the top Indian Cricket players implicated in match-fixing included Azharuddin. However, allegations of match-fixing were levelled against him after Hansie Cronje’s confession when the latter named Azharuddin as the main person who introduced him to the bookies. A CBI enquiry followed and Azharuddin was banned from cricket for life by the BCCI in 2000, which was lifted six years later. He has moved the High Court, where his case is pending.
Indeed, gambling pre-dates recorded history and the evidence of match-fixing is found throughout the recorded history. The ancient Olympic Games were constantly dealing with allegations of athletes accepting bribes to lose a competition. These activities went on despite the oath each athlete took to protect the integrity of the events and the severe punishment inflicted on those found guilty. Chariot racing was also dogged by race-fixing throughout its history.
Match fixing in football also exists. In Turkey, in 2011, more than 30 players and staff have been convicted of game-fixing. In South Korea, more than 50 professional soccer players have been indicted and ten players were handed lifetime bans. In Finland, two Zambian players were convicted and more than a dozen people were under investigation. Other investigations are continuing in China, El Salvador, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Thailand, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. FIFA has banned 74 more officials and players in soccer for helping fix matches in Italy and South Korea in February 2013, after a series of cases prosecuted by Italian soccer authorities.
The integrity of horse racing remains an ongoing concern since gambling is an integral part of this sport. The allegations of race-fixing have centered around the recently formed betting exchanges which unlike traditional bookmakers allow punters to lay an outcome (that is, to bet against a particular runner).
Leading exchange Betfair has responded to the allegations by signing Memorandums of Understanding with Jockey Club, FA, International Cricket Council, Association of Tennis Professionals and other sporting authorities.
Honesty in sports has become a topic of public interest as the sports are now threatened by doping scandals and corruption. The first case of match-fixing in modern sport seems to have occurred in 1915 in a match between Manchester United and Liverpool, which was fixed in Manchester’s favour. United won 2:0 and avoided relegation. One of the major incidents in Europe concerned Finnish football matches. One team, Tampere United was suspended indefinitely from Finnish football for accepting payments from a person known for match-fixing, according to BBC News 2011.
Other cases of match-fixing include the “Zheyun Ye” case in Belgium in 2004-2006, the Italian football scandals in 2005-2006, the “Apito Dourado” Golden Whistle affair in Portuguese football in 2004, and the Hoyzer and Bochum scandals in Germany, the arrests of 71 people involved in a soccer match-fixing in Poland in 2007, or the Greek match-fixing scandal in 2011.
The universal nature of this problem is illustrated by other cases such as the Brazilian football match-fixing scandal in 2005, the scandal of sumo competitions in Japan in 2011, the scandal of the Pakistan’s 2010 cricket tour of England with players deliberately bowling no-balls and the match-fixing investigation by authorities in Turkey where nearly 93 people are suspected to have been involved with fixing agents.
It is obviously a case all over the world, that the names, places and dates, change, but the match-fixing problem continues. What is now proved was only imagined in the past.
Thus it may be seen that position in India is no better than elsewhere. It is no use making bold statements without follow-up actions by the BCCI. What is required is to preempt the problem and make the cost of match-fixing prohibitive. It needs to spend at least 5 per cent of its profits and earnings on vigilance and anti-corruption measures, so that the people of India do not feel cheated.
Roopleen once rightly said, may be for BCCI, “Extra miles, extensive preparation and exhaustive efforts usually show astonishing results.”
By Joginder Singh