While cricket has surged in popularity with the introduction of T20 cricket over a decade ago and brought in millions of new fans around the world, a large number of fans have stopped watching the game. Die-hard cricket fans have been jaded by the numerous match fixing scandals that have rocked the cricketing world in the last two decades.
India continues to be a major hub for match fixing in cricket and T20 cricket tends to be one of the main targets. The Indian Premier League (IPL), Karnataka Premier League (KPL) and the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) have all been tainted with match fixing allegations over the years.
The BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) has its hands full with multiple investigations to pursue plus the task of keeping a vigilant eye on current market situations as India gets ready to resume international cricketing action.
ICC ACU Head Urges For Law To Be Passed Quickly
The ICC’s ACU has been under even more pressure in recent years as there are multiple cases and leads that Steve Richardson and his team have to pursue. Richardson has called on the Indian government to help clean up match fixing in cricket by passing new legislation that will make match fixing a criminal offense.
Current laws in India ban any form of sports betting and anyone found placing an illegal bet can be arrested but if someone is found offering a bribe to a player to fix a match, they cannot be arrested as there is no clear law regarding match fixing.
This grey area is one of the reasons why match fixers are so bold to approach players and fix matches. Richardson believes that with India set to host the T20 World Cup in 2021 and the ICC World Cup in 2023, there is going to be a lot of attempts at match fixing in the coming years. He wants the Indian government to not only pass a law to criminalize match fixing but to pass the law quickly so that the authorities have more power to arrest and prosecute match fixers.
Richardson said that he had information concerning around 10 individuals who were serial match fixers in India but wasn’t too keen on sharing that information with the Indian authorities as he was aware the authorities cannot do much given the current legal framework concerning match fixing.
BCCI ACU Making A Difference
The BCCI ACU also supported the stance of Richardson and said the laws would significantly help them reduce corruption in the sport. ACU head Ajit Singh knows fully well how the TNPL and KPL have been tarnished due to the match fixing scandals that rocked these state T20 leagues.
When the ACU was commissioned to oversee these state T20 leagues, the match fixing scandals were highlighted. Indian cricket has seen match fixing at the highest level as witnessed by the suspension of the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals franchises.
Singh believes at this point in time the ACU is working backwards looking to find match fixers and investigate suspicious games. A law criminalizing match fixing will help to discourage match fixers from openly going after players and make the work of the ACU a lot easier.
Notorious match fixer Ravinder Dandiwal was arrested in early July in Punjab. The BCCI ACU was the one who highlighted Dandiwal’s suspicious activities after he streamed a local T20 match in Mumbai and promoted it as a game played in Sri Lanka. This was a big catch for the ACU as they had been after Dandiwal since 2016.
ICC Can Work With Indian Government
Sri Lanka is currently the only cricketing nation to have put in place a law that criminalizes match fixing. The ICC and the Sri Lankan government worked together to come up with this law which hands out a 10 year prison sentence to match fixers. The law has been in place since 2019.
India being the biggest and most powerful cricketing nation in the world needs to take a leaf out of Sri Lanka’s book and pass a similar law. If India does listen to the pleas of the ICC and BCCI ACU, it will encourage other cricket playing nations to follow suit and protect the game of cricket from the evil of match fixing.
BCCI President Sourav Ganguly has strong political contacts to the current government but has so far not made it a priority to tackle match fixing during his term.