The BCCI has somehow managed to schedule the 2020 IPL amid the on-going coronavirus pandemic. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is set to host the 2020 IPL from Sep 19 to Nov 10 across stadiums in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah.
The IPL is the richest cricketing domestic T20 tournament in the world and continues to attract match-fixers like bees to honey. The IPL over the years has had its fair share of match-fixing incidents, which resulted in the suspension of both cricketers and IPL franchises Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals.
IPL and UAE Great Combination For Match Fixing
The UAE has also been a hotbed for match-fixing over the years as the notorious don Dawood Ibrahim has used the UAE as his base for many years and allegedly ran one of the biggest match-fixing rackets in the UAE and around the world.
There have been numerous warrants out for Dawood Ibrahim’s arrest, but he has managed to avoid the authorities and keep out of the limelight in recent times. However, rumors suggest that Ibrahim continues to run his crime syndicate and is actively involved in getting his soldiers to fix games.
Bringing the IPL to the UAE is a positive for the BCCI. If the 2020 IPL was canceled, the BCCI would have lost close to $500 million in revenue. However, bringing the IPL to the UAE also sets the stage for match-fixers to get a lot closer to the players and tempt them with big money.
BCCI ACU Says Bio-Bubble Will Help
The BCCI Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) will have their hands full during the 2020 IPL as they are fully aware that there will be attempts to fix games throughout the IPL. Ajit Singh, who heads the BCCI ACU, is aware of the match-fixing threat but believes that due to the bio-bubble, the threat will significantly reduce.
The IPL governing body will look to create a bio-bubble similar to what the NFL and NBA have done in America for their leagues. The IPL will create three bio-bubbles in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah, where players, coaches, and support staff will not be allowed to exit their bubbles throughout the IPL.
The reason for the bio-bubble is to restrict access and exposure to individuals who are not part of the IPL setup. The bio-bubble is expected to keep players and staff a lot more secure from being exposed to the coronavirus. This restricted access within the bio-bubble is what the ACU is banking on to reduce the exposure to match-fixers as unknown individuals will not be allowed to enter the bubble.
Social Media Will Be Monitored
Singh believes the main access that match-fixers will have to IPL players will be via social media. Since unknown individuals will not be able to enter the bio-bubble, match-fixers will have to take the social media route to gain access to players. The ACU has confirmed that it will be keeping a close watch on all digital interactions of the players during the 2020 IPL.
Since the players are going to be confined to their hotel rooms most of the time, you can expect IPL players to be spending a lot more time on their social media accounts. The ACU will once again be providing players with social media education and letting them know how easy it is for an ‘innocent fan’ to approach them with an ‘offer’ suddenly.
The ACU will also have its work cut out as the team will be keeping a close watch on all betting markets to see if there is any unusual activity on IPL games. This is one clear way to find out if anything fishy is taking place.
Each IPL Team Gets 2 Liaison Officers
After the IPL match-fixing scandal in 2013, each IPL franchise was given an integrity officer who was responsible for vetting, who the players met during the IPL. The integrity officer would report any suspicious incidents to the ACU.
There will be no integrity officer during the 2020 IPL since players will be in the bio-bubble. The ACU has decided to have 2 security liaison officers for each IPL franchise who will stay at the team hotel and also travel together with the team for training practices and on match days. Singh confirmed that his ACU teams are well prepared and equipped to ensure that the 2020 IPL is free from match-fixing. They are so confident that they have declined to have any help from the ICC ACU team.