Fresh corruption allegations against Australian players set to be aired
Fresh allegations of spot-fixing against “current and former Australian players” are set to be aired by the television news network Al Jazeera in a follow-up to the investigative documentary aired earlier this year.
Cricket Australia has confirmed the allegations relate to “historical matches from 2011”, a year in which the national team concluded an Ashes series, then took part in the 50-over World Cup, bilateral tours of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and South Africa, then home matches against New Zealand and India. The chief executive James Sutherland said a CA integrity unit investigation had been conducted into the claims.
Acknowledgement of the allegations arrived on the same day the ICC requested information from the public about the identity of an individual filmed in the original documentary, named as Aneel Munawar and claiming to be the organiser of spot-fixing for illegal Indian betting syndicates. According to the ICC, the follow-up programme is set to air recorded conversations involving Munawar and illegal bookmakers about spot-fixing arrangements.
“We are aware of the new investigative documentary by Al Jazeera into alleged corruption in cricket,” Sutherland said. “Since the broadcast of Al Jazeera’s first documentary, the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit has been conducting a thorough investigation into the claims made, however this has been hampered by a lack of cooperation from Al Jazeera.
“Although not having been provided an opportunity to review any raw audio or footage, our long-standing position on these matters is that credible claims should be treated very seriously, and investigated. Cricket Australia’s Integrity Unit have conducted a review of the latest claims by Al Jazeera, from a known criminal source, and, from the limited information provided by Al Jazeera, our team have not identified any issues of corruption relating to current or former Australian players.
“We have handed all material over to the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit to enable them to fully investigate and we will continue to cooperate with the ICC.”
Alex Marshall, head of the ICC’s anti-corruption unit, said that attempts to properly identify Munawar had so far been unsuccessful. “We have identified every other person in the original documentary and have spoken to a number of them in connection with match fixing, including those who are not deemed to be participants under our Anti-Corruption Code,” Marshall said.
“However the true identity of Aneel Munawar remains a mystery. He plays a significant role in the programme, yet enquiries with law enforcement and immigration sources have not identified or located him. As such we are appealing to the public or anyone from within the cricket family to contact us with any information that will lead us to identify and locate him. Police investigations often use such an appeal to locate people of interest and we are exercising the same approach.
“The absence of any cooperation from the broadcaster has slowed the investigation, but to date we have made good progress in identifying people of significant interest including people already of interest to the ACU. We have been able to discount a number of claims made in the programme and continue to pursue other aspects. We will provide a full update at the conclusion of the investigation.”
The ICC and Al Jazeera remain at odds over the network’s refusal to hand over to the governing body all raw footage recorded during their own investigations. One of the sticking points has been the fact that among Munawar’s allegations was the suggestion that the ICC’s anti-corruption unit itself had been compromised by financial links to illegal bookmakers and Indian crime figures.
“We are aware that there is a second documentary in the offing, this time based on historical recordings between a fixer, suspected to be Munawar and bookies in India,” Marshall said. “As with the first programme, we will investigate any claims made in a full and thorough manner and we take any allegations of corruption, historical or contemporary, extremely seriously.
“Based on what we already know, we have engaged the services of an independent betting analysis company to examine the claims made about particular matches. As with the first programme we have, and will continue to ask for the cooperation of the broadcaster. Access to the raw, unedited footage enables us to build a complete picture around the claims in the documentary and ensure our investigation is as fair and thorough as possible.”
Sutherland outlined the significant education programmes undertaken by all players regarding their obligations to avoid corruption. “It is important to reiterate that Cricket Australia and the ICC take a zero-tolerance approach against anyone trying to compromise the integrity of the game,” he said. “We urge Al Jazeera to provide all un-edited materials and any other evidence to the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit.
“Australian cricket is proactive with its sports integrity management and Cricket Australia’s Integrity Unit oversees and maintains all domestic cricket in Australia, including BBL and WBBL matches. In addition to this, prior to the start of each Australian season, all professional cricketers are required to participate in thorough anti-corruption education sessions before being eligible to compete in CA’s domestic competitions.”
The Australian Cricketers’ Association chief executive Alistair Nicholson, meanwhile, called for full information sharing from the news network to help bring the matter to a conclusion. “The players have zero tolerance for any behaviour that may impact upon the integrity of the game,” he said.
“However, enough is enough when it comes to people making unsupported accusations that have the ability to unfairly tarnish players’ reputations. Whoever is making these allegations should provide all the information they purport to have to the ICC to allow them to assess it.” (ESPNCricinfo)