Posts Tagged ‘ Twenty20 ’

Police Question Pakistan Cricket Team Over Newspaper’s Matchfixing Allegations

By Richard Sydenham for The Canadian Press

Police have questioned Pakistan’s cricket team over newspaper allegations of matchfixing during the current Test match against England at Lord’s, the team’s manager said on Saturday.

“I can confirm that we are aware of the allegations and Scotland Yard police are with us now at the hotel and we are helping with their inquiries,” team manager Yawar Saeed told The Associated Press. “This is as much as I can say at the moment.

” British newspaper the News of the World alleged in its Sunday edition that Pakistan players were secretly paid to deliberately bowl no-balls during the fourth and final Test against England as part of a betting scam.

The newspaper says it has secretly-filmed video footage of its undercover reporters, posing as front men for a Far East gambling cartel, in discussion with a man who appears to accept 150,000 pounds (C$244,000) in order to make sure no-balls are bowled at certain times during the match.

The News of the World says it has passed all its evidence to the police. Scotland Yard police said in a statement: “Following information received from the News of the World, we have today arrested a 35-year-old man on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers.

” The International Cricket Council said it was aware of the situation and it, along with the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Pakistan Cricket Board, was “fully assisting” police with their inquiries.

“No players nor team officials have been arrested in relation to this incident and the fourth npower Test match will continue as scheduled on Sunday,” said the ICC’s statement. “As this is now subject to a police investigation neither ICC, ECB, PCB nor the ground authority, the MCC, will make any further comment.”

Any player found guilty of involvement in matchfixing faces a life ban from the sport. Pakistan needs to win the final Test against England at Lord’s to salvage a draw in the four-match series, but it faces an uphill task after scoring just 74 in reply to England’s first innings total of 446.

India Rocked By Cricket Scandal

By Mark Magnier for The Los Angeles Times

Combine two of India’s favorite pastimes, cricket and politics. Add allegations of corruption, greed, and tax evasion. Throw in the implosion of a highflying political career and it’s not difficult to understand why India’s hyperactive broadcast media are on a tear.

On Monday, India’s finance minister announced an investigation of the funding and sources behind the nation’s top cricket teams, suggesting that more bombshells are to come. The scandal underscores the cost of operating a business on steroids without creating adequate safeguards, analysts said. At issue is the questionable allocation of shares in the enormously popular Indian Premier League, which in its three-year life has become a virtual license to print money, with its “brand value” doubling to $4 billion in the last year.

Cricket has long been popular here, but the Premier League organized truncated “Twenty20” matches among Indian teams, where before, they mostly involved longer matches against foreign teams. So when word spread that the eight-team league would expand into Pune, in Maharashtra state, and Cochin, in Kerala state, it was huge news.

The political opposition soon cried foul, however, on discovering that a female friend of Shashi Tharoor, the junior foreign minister, had received $15 million in “sweat equity” shares as part of the Kerala deal, though it’s not clear how much work she undertook. This, the opposition charged, was a backdoor way to secure his help in assembling the deal.

Tharoor, a former undersecretary at the United Nations and author of several fiction and nonfiction books before entering politics, is from Kerala. His friend, real estate executive Sunanda Pushkar, is rumored to be his future bride. Tharoor and Pushkar have denied any conflict of interest. And Pushkar on Sunday offered to return the shares. That wasn’t enough, however. After a series of hurried meetings with ruling Congress party heavyweights and the prime minister, Tharoor resigned late Sunday evening.

Tharoor, 54, is hardly a stranger to controversy. Last year he spent weeks at a five-star hotel while awaiting renovations on his official residence. Although he said he’d pay for it himself, the incident was not well received during a party austerity drive. He openly challenged superiors in Twitter messages, winning plaudits with the under-30 crowd but rattling the political establishment. For many, the questionable cricket link was the final straw. “Whether he has a political career left, we’ll have to see, but I doubt it,” said Mahesh Rangarajan, a professor at Delhi University.

With Tharoor’s exit, the spotlight shifted Monday to the league and other teams’ ownership, with opposition lawmakers howling that the league was little more than a “betting and gambling ring.” Behind the league’s success is its chairman, business scion Lalit Modi, 46, who’s been termed everything from a dictator and black sheep for his arrogant style and a visionary for creating the league from scratch, reportedly modeled on soccer’s English Premier League.

Local news reports suggested Monday that Modi could lose his chairmanship in the deepening scandal. Of particular interest to tax authorities are charges that some owners used their stakes to launder money. “This could lead to a very serious investigation in today’s security environment,” Rangarajan said.

So far, the charges are unproved, but the scandal has raised concerns that Indian businesses, in their headlong rush forward, are falling short on financial disclosure, with some analysts pointing to the 2009 meltdown of Satyam, once a world-class information technology outsourcing company found to be cooking the books.

The NBA and the NFL have had decades to absorb the impact of big-money culture, but the Indian league has developed in just three years. “In India, you’ve never seen the monetization of sport like this,” said Ayaz Memon, a cricket commentator. “It’s a culture shock.”

There’s too much money, too many fashion shows at the end of cricket matches, purists argue, detracting from the essence of the game. Cricket has been overdue for reform, sports historian Boria Majumdar said. “Cricket is our only secular religion,” he said. “Everyone understands the need for a serious cleansing. Big money, big corporations, unclean money, shady deals, they’re everywhere.”

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