India's cricket authorities "have imposed life bans on two players accused of fixing elements of matches during last season's Indian Premier League," according to James Crabtree of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The Board of Control for Cricket in India said that "it had banned" former int'l S. Sreesanth and another player, Ankeet Chavan, following a meeting in New Delhi. The "most serious corruption scandal in the history of the controversial annual tournament" began in May with the arrest of three cricketers, including the two players banned on Friday, and more than a dozen bookmakers, on accusations of "spot-fixing." The bans "are the latest move from the BCCI in an attempt to repair the image of its tainted league" (FT, 9/13). In Chennai, Rakesh Rao wrote "the committee heard other accused Amit Singh, Siddharth Trivedi and Harmeet Singh during a meeting that lasted nearly four hours." Singh was handed a five-year ban, Trivedi was banned for one year and Harmeet "was let off owing to lack of evidence." All the four players punished "belong to Rahul Dravid-led Rajasthan Royals." Sreesanth and Chavan "have joined Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma" in the list of int'l cricketers banned for life by the BCCI's disciplinary committee (THE HINDU, 9/13).
CHALLENGE COMING: The PTI reported calling the life ban imposed on Sreesanth "bizarre," his lawyer Rebecca John said the tainted pacer will challenge the BCCI's decision in court as it is "completely against the principles of natural justice." John said, "It has based its findings on personal interactions with members of Delhi Police as well as taken material from the chargesheet that has been filed by the police before a sessions court. If that is so then they should have waited for the court to determine whether or not any of this holds up in legal proceedings" (PTI, 9/15). The PTI also reported describing the life ban imposed on him by the BCCI as the biggest setback in his life, Sreesanth on Saturday maintained that "he had not done any wrong and would prove his innocence in the spot-fixing scandal." Sreesanth said he did not know why he was being "framed" in this situation. Sreesanth: "I can tell that I have not done anything wrong" (PTI, 9/14).
The world's "biggest match-fixer is suspected of masterminding the rigging" of professional football matches in the second tier Victoria Premier League while under police protection in Europe, according to McKenzie, Bucci & Baker of THE AGE. Authorities "are examining how Wilson Raj Perumal was able to allegedly control the biggest match-fixing operation in Australian history despite ostensibly being under police protection in Hungary as a supergrass on match-fixing cases there." On Sunday, Victorian detectives "arrested nine players and the coach of the Southern Stars Football Club in Melbourne's south-east." Perumal is suspected of recruiting skilled "journeymen" players from the U.K. to join Australia's second-tier football league, "where they could more easily manipulate the outcome of games but still play in matches that attracted large betting pools across Asia." The accused players "may have allegedly fixed every match they played this season after being directed by the syndicate to lose, draw or win, or to concede goals or commit fouls at certain periods of the game." Southern Stars Club President Ercan Cicek said that "his club had been provided with five players from England this season at no expense but he had no suspicion of any alleged match-fixing until news of the arrests on Sunday." Cicek: "Last year somebody emailed me from England, [saying] 'We want to sponsor your club.' Our committee members are thinking, 'Oh beautiful, five players for free, we're not going to pay anything, it's a big, big bonus''' (THE AGE, 9/16).
TIME ON THEIR SIDE: REUTERS' Nick Mulvenney wrote Victoria police Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton said that "there was a big threat of match fixing in Australia because of the attractiveness of the time zone to gamblers in other countries." Ashton said in a statement, "It's believed there has been estimated betting winnings in Australia and overseas of more than A$2M ($1.8M) identified to date in connection with this particular operation. We will continue to work with the relevant sporting codes and the Australian Crime Commission to create an environment that is hostile to those seeking to engage in illegal activities involving our sporting codes" (REUTERS, 9/15).
WARNING SIGNS: In Melbourne, David Davutovic wrote the Southern Stars betting scandal "is a massive warning" for football clubs Australia-wide. And while the technical gurus have long warned about the damage internationals can have on the development of Aussie kids, Sunday's arrests "prove that the foreign influx poses a far greater threat." Little due diligence is done on these players (usually a recommendation from an individual, which appears to have happened in this case) "most of whom have played at a modest level abroad." It is believed coach Zaya Younan -- who was also arrested -- "was involved in recruiting the players, all of whom came from England" (HERALD SUN, 9/16).
The Board of Control for Cricket in India is "ready to open another front" against the Int'l Cricket Council and other member boards, according to Sanjjeev K. Samyal of the HINDUSTAN TIMES. The BCCI is "unhappy with the ICC’s system of distributing 75% of its net profit equally among full members." The BCCI feels it "deserves a bigger share and is now looking to extract its pound of flesh." The BCCI’s demand for a larger share of the pie "stems from India’s centrality to the sport and its global governing body." India generates more than "70% of the game’s revenue and is also the reason why the ICC attracts big broadcast and sponsorship deals for its events" such as the 50-over World Cups and World T20s. Banking "mainly on the Indian market," the ICC has projected $1.58B as the value of "its commercial rights for the period" '07-15. Moreover, "BCCI’s research says, without India, ICC’s bargaining power in broadcast deals straightaway falls by 40%." India wants an arrangement similar to the one in La Liga, where the "two biggest draws" -- Real Madrid and Barcelona -- receive a "much larger share of the TV rights deal." One "can expect a long-drawn fight and, going by the BCCI’s record, boycott threats are likely to fly unless its stand is okayed" (HINDUSTAN TIMES, 9/15). The PTI reported "with a fortnight to go for the BCCI's Annual General Meeting" in Chennai on Sept. 29, "under pressure BCCI president-in-exile N. Srinivasan has already started working on his bid to retain the hot-seat for one more season." Srinivasan "had called all the BCCI affiliated units from southern parts to assemble in Chennai to pledge their support ahead of the AGM." The absence of the Goa Cricket Association and Andhra CA from the meeting, however, has led to "speculations about an election being on the cards" (PTI, 9/15).
BCCI TO PUSH FOR RULE CHANGES: In Mumbai, Dwaipayan Datta reported the BCCI is "set to push for some rule changes" in the forthcoming Chief Executives Committee meeting of the ICC next week. The sub-continental boards will ask to "abolish the two-new-balls rule for One-dayers." As per present playing conditions, "two new balls are used from two ends and that is creating major problems for the spinners" (TIMES OF INDIA, 9/15).
FORMER PCB CHAIR SPEAKS OUT: The PTI reported former Pakistan Cricket Board Chair Khalid Mehmood "has advised the present PCB set-up against accepting any BCCI invitation to play a proposed tri-series with Sri Lanka in India later this year." Mehmood said that the PCB "should not make compromises on its home series for the sake of accomodating the Indian board" (PTI, 9/15).