ICC clarifies match-fixing comments: no specific probe into Hong Kong team, says HKCA
Top local official Cutler says world body has admitted remarks that led to media speculation of Hong Kong involvement were seriously misleading
The International Cricket Council on Friday told Hong Kong officials that it was not specifically investigating Hong Kong over match-fixing, finally putting an end to speculation raised after ambiguous comments made this week by the body’s anti-corruption chief.
The Hong Kong Cricket Association had demanded that the ICC clarify comments by Sir Ronnie Flanagan, who told a press conference that match-fixing investigations by the body’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) centred on the team from which a player was recently suspended.
International media assumed that player to be Irfan Ahmed, the Hong Kong all-rounder who was provisionally suspended in January for failing to report an approach to fix a match.
HKCA officials were furious that the comments were made on the eve of the ICC World Twenty20, with Hong Kong set to face Zimbabwe - a match they eventually lost.
HKCA CEO Tim Cutler said: “Ordinarily, neither a Board nor the ICC comments on matters relating to ACU activities or investigations, but, following a range of comments and subsequent media reports that suggested that the Hong Kong team is under investigation, we feel it is imperative to clarify these misleading and damaging reports.
“The HKCA has received confirmation from Sir Ronnie Flanagan, the chairman of the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit, that the Hong Kong squad is under no greater scrutiny than any other squad involved in the current ICC World Twenty20 India 2016."
Richardson said in a press conference on Friday: “Comments made by Sir Ronnie the other day referring to one team were made in the context of trying to explain to people that we are very much aware that there are these corrupt individuals swanning around the world taking every opportunity to try and [influence] players.
“It’s unfair to speculate against one team. All teams will be monitored.”
He said the reference to “one team” was that this team was approached, reported it to the ICC and therefore the body was using that one team as an example for all other sides to be on alert.
Ahmed was provisionally suspended under Article 2.4.2 of the ICC Anti-Corruption Code, which states: “Failing to disclose to the ACSU (without undue delay) full details of any approaches or invitations received by the Participant to engage in conduct that would amount to a breach of the Anti-Corruption Code”.
Last year, reports emerged that the ICC was investigating Hong Kong’s T20 World Cup qualifier against Afghanistan, though there has been no further comment on this probe.
Said Cutler: “Sir Ronnie Flanagan has expressed his deepest gratitude for HKCA’s assistance in the ongoing fight against corruption, and in particular, our support of recent ACU activities.
“Naturally, we are very disappointed that this matter has been raised in this manner and at this time, but we thank the ICC for clarifying the matter, and publicly supporting Hong Kong and our efforts to combat corruption.
“We are here to play cricket, and will now move on from this matter to focus on the remainder of the tournament.”