ICC team up with police for 'war' on match-fixing
Game's governing body strikes agreement with Australian and New Zealand forces to stamp out match-fixing ahead of 2015 World Cup
The International Cricket Council (ICC) will strike agreements with law enforcement agencies in Australia and New Zealand to guard against corruption blighting the 2015 World Cup, ICC chief executive David Richardson said yesterday.
Elite cricket has been rocked by a series of corruption-related scandals in recent years that have swept up players, umpires and officials around the world.
The 2015 World Cup, to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, is likely to generate huge global betting interest, raising fears that players might be targeted by rogue bookmakers with the promise of big pay-offs forcheating.
ICC chief Richardson, a former South Africa wicketkeeper who played under disgraced captain Hansie Cronje, the game's most infamous match-fixer, said the global governing body would work more closely with police in the co-host countries than in previous world cups.
"Previously, we always had anti-corruption unit people there observing, educating and just keeping an eye on things," the 53 year old said at the launch of the 2015 World Cup in Melbourne yesterday.
"What's slightly different for this event is that we'll be entering into agreements with local law enforcement agencies to make sure they can help us in building up the intelligence and making sure we can keep track of all the guys around the world who are trying to influence and may try to corrupt players.
"We find that there's these unscrupulous individuals flying around the world betting on cricket, obviously not trying to fix every game but just betting on cricket.
"The temptation then is going to be there for them to get players to do what they shouldn't.
"That's the real war, making sure that we know who these people are, making sure that they stay away from the players, making sure that the players report in and protest as soon as [something] happens rather than being tempted to do anything stupid."
Richardson's comments come days after a British newspaper reported that the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) would investigate the recently concluded one-day series between the West Indies and Pakistan. The Mail on Sunday alleged suspicious betting patterns and passages of play.
The report followed revelations of match-fixing in the Bangladesh Premier League, with former Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful confessing to cheating last month, and the arrests of three players in the lucrative Indian Premier League for cheating and fraud.
In keeping with the ICC's silence on the work of the ACSU, Richardson declined to comment on the West Indies-Pakistan series or other allegations brought against players.
Australia, where sports-related gambling has soared in recent years, was rocked earlier this year by a report from its top criminal intelligence agency that found organised crime was exerting a growing influence on local sports.
Richardson said the ICC would lobby governments in Australia and New Zealand to strengthen legislation to target sports-related corruption.
Australia has made concerted efforts to amend laws to target betting-related corruption in recent years but some states and territories lag behind others.
New Zealand currently has no legislation aimed specifically at match-fixing.
"The other thing that we are quite keen on is forcing through, or at least lobbying to get, legislation which makes it a serious criminal offence to get involved in this kind of thing, or even to attempt to lure players or match officials into corrupt activities - in both countries," Richardson said.
"I think it's on the drawing board, as I understand it, and we're obviously keen that we get it through before the 2015 World Cup."