Published On: January 27, 2023 09:45 AM NPT By: Republica | @RepublicaNepal
Recent police investigations have revealed that corruption didn’t spare even the sport of cricket which is known for its gentlemanly spirit and fair play. Organizing a press conference on Tuesday, the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police revealed that evidence of ‘spot-fixing’ was found in the matches of the Nepal T-20 League which was held at the Tribhuvan University Cricket Ground from December 24 to January 11. At the press conference, the CIB revealed that 10 people – four Nepalis and six foreigners – were involved in spot-fixing and said that based on evidence collected from Whatsapp messages and phone call details, two Nepalis have already been arrested for their alleged involvement in the act of fixing. The two arrested Nepalis are 41-year-old former all-rounder of the Nepali national cricket team, Mehboob Alam, and Mohammad Aadil Alam, a 20-year-old cricketer from Bara. It is really sad and unfortunate that a veteran and an emerging Nepali cricketer face the charge of spot-fixing – an illegal activity in which a specific aspect of the game is predetermined. Though spot-fixing is unrelated to the final result of the game, it does let a betting market thrive. The police have indicated that other arrests, too, may be made soon.
Police investigations have shown the role of Seven Three Sports, an Indian company entrusted by the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) to organize the Nepal T-20 League, is suspicious. Police have also said that Jatin Ahluwalia, the owner of the Indian firm, is the mastermind behind the fixing incident in the Nepal T-20 League, which courted controversy right from the beginning as it was organized at the expense of all other domestic T-20 leagues of Nepal. CAN had banned all other franchise-based domestic T-20 leagues such as Everest Premier League, Dhangadhi Premier League and Pokhara Premier League arguing that the country can have only one official T-20 league that is recognized by the cricket governing body of Nepal. Things were fishy right from the beginning when CAN sold the commercial partnership of the league to the Indian firm Seven Three Sports, allegedly a betting company, for eight years for Rs 330 million. There is no doubt that such scandals tarnish the reputation of the game, also bringing into question the integrity of the players and officials involved. Though the deliberate manipulation would not affect the outcome of the games, it is a serious crime that has undermined the very essence of sport destroying the trust of fans in the game. Ultimately, such incidents may lead to the decline of cricket itself!
The scourge of spot-fixing has hit Nepali cricket some seven years after the country’s most popular sport – football – was embroiled in a controversy of match-fixing. In 2015, for the first time in the history of Nepali sports, the controversy of match-fixing raised its ugly head in Nepali football and half a dozen national footballers including the then skipper of the national football team Sagar Thapa were accused of the crime and arrested. Though they were acquitted by the court later, the FIFA ban on them continues even today. Back then, there were no laws against such crimes in sports and the footballers and officials involved had to be charged under ‘treason against the state.’ But today, thankfully there is a law governing sports crimes like match-fixing, among others. Section 32 (c) of the National Sports Development Act has a provision of a three-year jail term and a fine of Rs 50,000 for such crimes. Of course, the law must be implemented strictly. But that alone would not be enough. The players and other stakeholders need to be educated and made aware about the consequences of such crimes which are a serious threat to the integrity of cricket. The cricketing authorities must take strong and decisive action to stamp out this menace and restore the trust of the fans in the game. The players and the officials, on their part, must do everything they can to uphold the integrity of the sport. They must remember that they are role models for hundreds of thousands of other young people and that their actions have consequences. And for the fans it’s tough as their favorite players might be involved. But it’s time for the fans to understand the seriousness of the situation, and support the authorities in their efforts to make cricket fair and honest. If we all are together, then we can nip this corruption in the country’s cricket while it is still a bud. Things will definitely be much more complicated if this bud is allowed to grow into a tree.
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