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Volume 6 No. 232

Events and Attractions

The Int'l Cricket Council "swung into action quickly" on Thursday to "shoot down allegations of match fixing in the Ashes series," but was "forced to admit it would need to investigate the wide-ranging claims more thoroughly," according to Peter Lalor of THE AUSTRALIAN. British newspaper The Sun published the allegations "just hours before the third Test was due to begin," but by the time the captains met in the middle, Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland stood outside the WACA Ground and said that the ICC was confident there was "no evidence, no substance and no justification" to the claims. The ICC was informed before publication and "launched an immediate investigation." When England captain Joe Root said at the toss that it was “sad this has been written” on the eve of the match, the "onus of proof had shifted back" to The Sun and the protagonists in its story. The paper identified two alleged fixers as ex-Indian state cricketer Sobers Joban and his partner Priyank Saxena, a tobacco businessman and bookmaker, who the newspaper "secretly filmed at hotels in Dubai and Delhi during a four-month investigation." Filmed by undercover reporters for the newspaper, the pair "claimed to have been able to give information on spot fixes" -- amounts of runs, when wickets would fall -- in the Perth Test for "large amounts of money" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/15). In Sydney, Ben Horne reported Sutherland said that it was "illogical" to think that modern day Australian cricketers -- the highest paid in the world -- "could be vulnerable to relatively small bribes." He said, "It certainly seems to be a bit of a scatter-gun story. There is almost a whole lot of mud being thrown out there. I think what is really important for the sake of the game is the integrity of the contest. An Ashes Series has so much at stake" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/14).

'THE SILENT MAN': The BBC reported the story in The Sun stated that a gang working with an Australian called "the Silent Man" was charging up to £138,000 ($185,408) to influence the game. No England players were named as being involved but the gang claimed to have "recruited one former Australian player." Australia captain Steve Smith said, "As far as I know, there's nothing that's been going on or anything like that. There's no place for that in our game." It is unclear how the bookmakers proposed to fix the Test, although, according to the newspaper, one told Sun investigators he could "get players to follow 'scripts' -- such as how many runs would be scored in a session, or an innings, when a wicket will fall and what a team would do if it won the toss" (BBC, 12/14). In Sydney, Barrett, Wu & Bungard reported ICC Anti-Corruption Unit GM Alex Marshall collected a dossier of evidence on a USB stick from The Sun "soon after the story went online" at 10pm local time in London, which was 6am in Perth. Marshall, having perused the evidence, said that while an investigation would take place into the "wide-ranging" allegations across several countries and competitions, there was "nothing to substantiate the claim that the third Test had been targeted by fixers." He said, "From my initial assessment of the material, there is no evidence, either from The Sun or via our own intelligence, to suggest the current test match has been corrupted" (THE AGE, 12/14).

Former Rugby Australia CEO Bill Pulver said that a rebuild of Sydney's stadiums "would be crucial" in bringing the 2021 Women's Rugby World Cup and 2027 Rugby World Cup to Australia, according to Fiona Bollen of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. As "one of his final acts in the job," Pulver announced plans for the bids during the unveiling of the Super W, a women's 15s competition to start next year. Pulver was confident RA could win hosting rights for the women's and men's tournaments but the NSW state government's stadiums rebuild plan "would need to go ahead." Pulver said, "I think the 2021 Women's World Cup and the 2027 men's World Cup, we're in very good shape. I give great credit to the (NSW) state government for the stadiums strategy they've just announced. ... This city has stadiums for rectangular sport that is simply inadequate. Their plan will make us world class across all the different sizes of stadiums you need to compete for these truly world class events." Australia previously considered bidding for the 2031 Rugby World Cup, but moved forward its plans after South Africa did not secure the '23 hosting rights. A southern hemisphere nation has not hosted since New Zealand in '11, with Japan to host '19. Pulver said that the technical review showed stadiums as a "key part in South Africa finishing as the preferred host" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/13).

'ABSOLUTE PRIORITY': In Sydney, Nicole Jeffery reported Australian Sports Commission Chair John Wylie said that governments "should be encouraging people to get their bums off seats rather than spending billions building more luxurious stadiums to accommodate them." At the AIS Sports Performance Awards this week, Wylie had a "dig at the NSW government's decision" to spend A$2.3B ($1.76B) rebuilding the 18-year-old ANZ Stadium at Homebush and the 30-year-old Allianz Stadium at Moore Park. He repeated the criticism on Thursday, saying that "a government that supported stadiums above community facilities had its priorities wrong." Wylie: "When large amounts of money goes into better and better stadiums, you are encouraging people to sit down and consume sport rather than play it. We should be encouraging people to participate. It should be the absolute priority of governments to be promoting and ­investing in sports participation" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/15).