GOING IN THE TANK!
May 31 - June 6, 2010
In the subcontinent cricket was known as gentleman's sport and as long as it retained amateur status it remained so. But about two decades ago with big and small gamblers mostly in India suddenly realising that money could be made far easier through fixing results, the game lost its honest image and became one of the biggest money spinning activity for the organisers, the cricketers, the betting fans and most of all the leading gamblers which even pout their life on stake to indulge in the business.
The first and almost credible incidence of gambling in cricket happened in Calcutta Test between Pakistan led by Asif Iqbal; and India captained by Vishwanath. In that test in 1979 it is alleged the Pakistani sold the toss and made strange decisions of declaring Pakistan innings when it was still short of Indian first innings total.
This incident was not exposed the day these decisions were taken though cricket writers suspected the fairness of the decision. It took many years before the incident came onto surface and written in the media. Since then Test gambling became hidden part of Indian cricket.
Advent of cricket in Sharjah in mid eighties made match fixing an industry with all sorts of people from Bombay to South Africa and Pakistan involved in betting. The desert sheikhdom got such a bad reputation that ultimate the International Cricket Council had to review its decision of holding matches there. A number of countries also left playing there and cricket which had bloomed so suddenly also died suddenly.
It was at Sharjah where Indian skipper Azharuddin allegedly was involved in match fixing. The Indian cricket icon was banned for his alleged involvement. South African skipper Hanse Cronje was also banished from test cricket for his admitted match fixing.
In Pakistan Salim Malik and Ata ur Rehman were banned for their involvement in bribery and match fixing scandal. Pakistan's recent disastrous tour of Australia has once again brought the match/spot fixing allegations against some Pakistani players.
Loss of Sydney Test which Pakistan could have won and the ball biting incident by stand-in captain Shahid Afridi in full view of 28 TV cameras once again have given credence that the gambling tycoons are not far from influencing individual players.
Shahid Afridi run out in 2010 ICC World T20 group league match was openly debated. Afridi leading the country in the West Indies tried for a "non existent run" and was run out. Some of those who are aware of how sport fixing is done felt that it was a perfect case of spot fixing.
Cricket has been scandalised by several gambling and match fixing allegations in recent years, culminating in the World Cup investigations of 2007. These highly publicised enquiries were prompted by the surprise defeat of Pakistan in the Cup by Ireland and the subsequent murder investigation into the sudden death, straight after the match, of Pakistan's head coach Bob Woolmer. Cricket match-fixing and the fallout of the Woolmer case have since become the subject of crime/thriller literature in the novel 'Raffles and the Match-Fixing Syndicate' (2008) by Adam Corres.
Long before cricket came under international spot light, other sports particularly horse racing and boxing were involved in match/spot fixing. Lately some of the football matches in Europe and even in Fifa world cup were also allegedly fixed.
In organised sports, match fixing, game fixing, race fixing, or sports fixing occur when a match is played to a completely or partially predetermined result, violating the rules of the game and often the law. Where the sporting competition in question is a race then the incident is referred to as race fixing. Games that are deliberately lost are sometimes called thrown games. When a team intentionally loses a game, or does not score as high as it can, to obtain a perceived future competitive advantage (for instance, earning a high draft pick) rather than gamblers being involved, the team is often said to have tanked the game instead of having thrown it.
In pool hustling, tanking is known as dumping. Thrown games, when motivated by gambling, require contacts (and normally money transfers) between gamblers, players, team officials, and/or referees. These contacts and transfer can sometimes be found, and lead to prosecution, by law or by the sports league(s).
In contrast, tanking is internal to the team and very hard to prove. Often, substitutions made by the coach designed to deliberately increase the team's chances of losing (frequently by having one or more key players sit out, often using minimal or phantom injuries as a public excuse for doing this), rather than ordering the players actually on the field to intentionally under perform, were cited as the main factor in cases where tanking has been alleged.
Match fixing does not necessarily involve deliberately losing a match. Occasionally, teams have been accused of deliberately playing to a draw or a fixed score where this ensures some mutual benefit (e.g. both teams advancing to the next stage of a competition).
One of the earliest examples of this sort of match fixing in the modern era occurred in 1898 when Stoke City and Burnley intentionally drew in that year's final "test match" so as to ensure they were both in the First Division the next season.
A more recent example occurred in the 1982 FIFA World Cup, West Germany played Austria in the last match of group B. A West German victory by 1 or 2 goals would result in both teams advancing; any less and Germany was out; any more and Austria was out (and replaced by Algeria, who had just beaten Chile). West Germany attacked hard and scored after 10 minutes. Afterwards, the players then proceeded to just kick the ball around aimlessly for the remainder of the match.
Algerian supporters were so angered that they waved banknotes at the players, while a German fan burned his German flag in disgust. As a result, FIFA changed its tournament scheduling for subsequent World Cups so that the final pair of matches in each group are played simultaneously.
To deal with the situation ICC established Anti Corruption Unit and a former London Metropolitan police commissioner Lord Condon was recruited to lead the unit in the wake of the Hanse Cronje match fixing affair a decade ago. He believed that, while wholesale fixing of matches had been stamped out but so-called "spot fixing" - which exploits bets placed on short passages of play rather than match results-remained a serious threat. Most of the Pakistanis who had been alleged to be involved in betting said to be involved in sport fixing which is hard to detect.
Launching of the Indian Premier League which attracted billion in dollars and big business who were there not for fun but profits became the magnet of all illegal betting in those matches, played both in India and South Africa which is allegedly is haven of match fixers.
It was here that Pakistan's one of the biggest known cricket gamblers known by his nickname "Cadbury" was murdered allegedly because he could not deliver the money to his counterparts in South Africa.
Lord Condon who will be stepping down as the head of the ACU at the end of May in an interview had spoken about the IPL. He said he could not give a clean bill of health to the IPL because I just don't know.
"We were worried about the first two IPLs, not because we thought there were fixes but because there was no real infrastructure to prevent them. If players do anything daft there, sadly they will take that back into the international game because you cannot be a part-time fixer once the bad guys are into you. A lot are organised criminals and you're on the hook."
"Compared to many other international sports, cricket is in good shape," Condon said. "But if it gets complacent, fixing will be all over it like a rash within a year, two years. They need to keep the pressure on. Complacency will be a real risk."
Condon, who will hand over to the former Northern Ireland chief constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan at the beginning of July, said that despite a flurry of allegations the ICC had not received any complaints about match-fixing at the third edition of the Indian Premier League. The ICC did not oversee the first two tournaments but had oversight of the third, which erupted into controversy as the IPL's commissioner, Lalit Modi, was suspended amid allegations of money-laundering and match-fixing. Condon said there had been no concrete evidence to investigate. Condon said the ICC would examine newly leaked video evidence showing Pakistan's management raising suspicions about match-fixing during their side's disastrous tour of Australia earlier this year, on which they lost every game. He said the "dysfunctional" tour was the subject of an ongoing inquiry. "What we are trying to establish is whether that was because rival camps wanted to do down captains or potential captains or whether they were doing something more serious, for a financial fix," he said.
Some of the known and recorded incidents that were allegedly involved in match fixing or gambling included, a 1919 incident when gamblers bribed several members of the Chicago White Sox to throw the World Series in USA. This became known as the Black Sox Scandal and was recounted in book and movie form as Eight Men Out.
On August 24, 1989, former baseball player Pete Rose voluntarily accepted a permanent ban from Major League Baseball for allegedly betting on Cincinnati Reds games while managing the team. Rose would later confirm the truth of the allegations in his 2004 autobiography, My Prison Without Bars.
AndrČs Escobar, a Colombian defender, was murdered shortly after his return from the 1994 FIFA World Cup, where he scored an own goal, the first of a 2-1 defeat to the USA that knocked out the Colombians at the first phase. In the most believed explanation, the MedellĖn drug cartel bet large sums of money that Colombia would advance, and blamed the MedellĖn-born Escobar for the loss.
In 2000 the Delhi police intercepted a conversation between a blacklisted bookie and the South African cricket captain Hanse Cronje in which they learnt that Cronje accepted money to throw matches. The South African government refused to allow any of its players to face the Indian investigation unit, which opened up a can of worms. A court of inquiry was set up and Cronje admitted to throwing matches. He was immediately banned from all cricket. He also named Saleem Malik (Pakistan), Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja (India).
Jadeja was banned for 4 years. They too were banned from all cricket. As a kingpin, Cronje exposed the dark side of betting, however with his untimely death in 2002 most of his sources also have escaped law enforcement agencies. Two South African cricketers, Herschelle Gibbs and Nicky Boje, are also wanted by the Delhi police for their role in the match fixing saga. A few years before in 1998, Australian players Mark Waugh and Shane Warne were fined f or revealing information about the 'weather' to a bookmaker.
The Italian Football Federation said in October 2000 it had found eight players guilty of match-fixing. A Brazilian magazine in 2005 revealed that two football referees, EdĖlson Pereira de Carvalho (a member of FIFA's referee staff) and Paulo JosČ Danelon, had accepted bribes to fix matches. Soon afterwards, sport authorities ordered the replaying of 11 matches in the country's top competition.
In November 2009, German police arrested 17 people on suspicion of fixing at least 200 soccer matches in 9 countries. Among the suspected games were those from the top leagues of Austria, Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Turkey, and games from the second highest leagues of Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland. Three contests from the Champions League were under investigation, and 12 from the Europa League. Where the sporting competition in question is a race then the incident is referred to as race fixing. Games that are deliberately lost are sometimes called thrown games. When a team intentionally loses a game, or does not score as high as it can, to obtain a perceived future competitive advantage (for instance, earning a high draft pick) rather than gamblers being involved, the team is often said to have tanked the game instead of having thrown it.