Hong Kong cricketer Irfan Ahmed banned for 30 months for failing to report approaches to fix matches
ICC says the player has accepted the decision and will not appeal, while HKCA vows to continue to be vigilant on match-fixing
Hong Kong cricketer Irfan Ahmed was on Wednesday suspended for two and a half years by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for failing to report requests to fix matches.
The 26-year-old all-rounder was in January charged with the offence that the ICC said took place several times between January 2012 and January 2014 following an investigation by its Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU).
The ICC said Ahmed had accepted the penalty and decided against appealing the decision. The 30-month ban is backdated to the start of when the probe was launched in January, which means Ahmed will be eligible to play again after May 4, 2018.
The ACU noted that Ahmed was not charged with any corruption offence and he did not act on any of the approaches. It also said the Hong Kong Cricket Association (HKCA) co-operated fully with its investigation.
Sir Ronnie Flanagan, chairman of the ACU, said: “This penalty should act as a reminder to all participants of the need to comply with their obligations under the Code at all times, and in particular the requirement to report corrupt approaches to the ACU without any delay.”
Ahmed had been charged under article 2.4.2 under the ICC anti-corruption code, namely: “Failing to disclose to the ACU (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.”
The ICC, in an eight-page document on Ahmed’s case, said he was familiar with his responsibilities because he had attended anti-corruption education sessions five times between June 2008 and July 2015. The sessions included reminders that cricketers should immediately report illegal approaches to the ACU.
Flanagan also expressed concern about the vulnerability of emerging associate members such as Hong Kong to match-fixers.
The HKCA on Wednesday said it supported the ICC findings, with chairman Mike Walsh saying: “The HKCA is pleased this matter has now reached its conclusion and fully support the continued fight against corruption in cricket.
“We echo the ICC ACU Chairman’s concerns about the recent attention paid to emerging cricket nations by illegal betting networks and we stand with the ICC to reinforce their efforts in educating our players and officials about the very real risks currently faced by cricket.”
HKCA CEO Tim Cutler said Ahmed’s case highlighted the need by associates such as Hong Kong to be vigilant.
“The global problem of match manipulation is a threat to the sport of cricket and Hong Kong cannot afford to be complacent,” said Cutler.
“The HKCA is committed to taking all necessary measures to prevent corrupt practices undermining the integrity of the sport of cricket, including attempts to improperly influence the outcome or aspect of any match or event.
“We have implemented a number of initiatives to combat corruption including adopting and implementing a robust anti-corruption code in Hong Kong that has been approved by the ICC.
“The acknowledgement by the ACU of the HKCA’s unqualified co-operation during their investigations is indicative of our efforts to maintain the integrity of cricket in Hong Kong,” Cutler said.
He said the HKCA will not be commenting further on the matter.
Ahmed has been one of Hong Kong’s leading players over the past few years with the ability to open the batting and the bowling. He has played six official one-day internationals and eight T20 matches.
Reports from Australia in January said Ahmed had been approached by the same individual, described in the ACU document as “X”, who paid New Zealand’s Lou Vincent to fix matches in England.
It said X made “six or seven” requests to Ahmed to fix matches, all of which the Hong Kong player had rejected.
The first approach was made in early 2012 in Lahore, Pakistan, where Ahmed was attending a batting training camp.