Lengthening shadow

Teams in the dock for fixing must not play till probe is over. Srinivasan needs to do the right thing

The chargesheets filed by Mumbai Police in the IPL 6 spot-fixing case, along with the testimonies of cricketers to Ravi Sawani, head of the BCCI's anti-corruption unit, appear to confirm what has been suspected all along. The tainted players may have underperformed or manipulated a certain passage of play, but the shadow of fixing extends beyond them. It travels all the way up to team owners and match officials. Mumbai Police has alleged, for instance, that Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf accepted gifts from bookies in exchange for favours, and in one instance urged a bookie to "bet his life" on the Mumbai Indians winning a match he was scheduled to officiate Mumbai beat Rajasthan Royals by 14 runs on that day. The chargesheet also accuses Gurunath Meiyappan, formerly Chennai Super Kings' team principal, of leaking team strategy to bookies and placing bets on matches involving his team.

The involvement of team owners and match officials in fixing games may be shocking, but it is not, unfortunately, uncommon. In 2006, investigations by the Italian police revealed that several high-profile football clubs were involved in fixing matches. Juventus (Italy's most successful club ever), AC Milan (the world's most successful club in European competitions), Lazio and Fiorentina (both former Italian champions), were all implicated. The harshest sentence was reserved for the most culpable side, Juventus, who were stripped of the 2005 and 2006 Serie A titles and relegated to Serie B, suffering crippling financial losses in the process. Investigations revealed that club presidents and team managers colluded with match referees to manufacture desired results. The severity of the sanctions, however, did not prove to be an active deterrent. As many as 15 Italian clubs and 19 players, across divisions, were incriminated in another fixing scandal in 2011, underlining how susceptible sports are to this entrenched malaise.

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