The integrity of Pakistani cricket has been called into question following the arrest of alleged match-fixer Mazhar Majeed, 35, by Scotland Yard this Sunday, and a wider investigation suggests some cricketers could be banned for life or even arrested, the Times of India is reporting. The Guardian reports that the cricketers accused of “spot-fixing,” or illegally attempting to defraud bookmakers, will not be suspended by the Pakistan cricket board chairman until they have been proved guilty through hard evidence. Captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif have allegedly been implicated, but arrived in Taunton, England, for the Sunday match.
All 82 matches that Mazhar Majeed has been involved in will now be investigated by the Anti-Corruption Unit of the International Cricket Council. Former Pakistan captains Imran Khan, Rameez Raja and Javed Miandad have called for lifetime bans if the charges are proved.
Spot-fixing, unlike match-fixing, is difficult to detect due to the subtle nature of the skill. By adjusting the timing of a first thrown-in for a match, for instance, a cricketer can adjust the results in a pre-arranged fix.
Cricket is hardly alone in accusations of fixing. In 2009, a major scandal emerged when European football (soccer) players and referees were accused of widespread match-fixing. The investigation spanned nine countries, 200 games, and at least 200 people, including 32 players. Most of the games investigated were in Germany, 32 in all; Switzerland saw 22 games; Turkey 29; Croatia 14; Slovenia 7; Hungary 13; Bosnia 8; Austria 11; and Belgium had 17 games under suspicion.
Giuseppe Postiglione, owner of Potenza S.C., was one of 17 people arrested, all but two arrested in Germany. The other two suspects were detained in Switzerland. A betting fraud detection system is in place to monitor real-time betting. The system alerts authorities in the event irregularities pop up.
A similar problem arose in 2005, according to the BBC, when German referee Robert Hoyzer was admitted to match-fixing. Problems occurred again in 2006, when Italian teams Juventus, Fiorentina, Lazio and AC Milan were all implicated in match-fixing.
Soccer has recognized that corruption is a serious threat to the health of the game, and it’s a lesson cricket will have to begin to take more seriously, in particular in Pakistan. To have one country implicated so strongly with alleged corruption means that it is incumbent on that nation’s cricket officials to initiate a more serious monitoring system of its own, lest fans begin to tune out.
Ist, Ashis Ray & Indranil Basu, “Cash found in hotel rooms of Pak players, 82 matches to be probed” Times of India
Gary Payne, “Pakistan refuse to suspend ‘spot-fixing’ players without proof” The Guardian
Eric Pfanner, “Game-Fixing Scandal Makes Many Poor Performances Suspect” New York Times
Owen Gibson, “Europe hit by ‘biggest-ever’ match-fixing scandal” The Guardian
BBC News, “Match-fixing inquiry probes 200 European football games”