The International Cricket Council (ICC) has apparently waged war on live betting ahead of the Cricket World Cup, and warned that anyone caught breaking the rules would be barred from the whole tournament.
Speaking to the media at the end of last week, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, head of the ICC’s anti-corruption and security unit, said that ‘pitch-siding’ went ‘far deeper’ than a few people betting ahead of the markets by being present at live games.
He explained: “I think the risk is that this feeds into a wider and more-sophisticated network of illegal betting, often in the Indian sub-continent. Facilitating people to either bet on events which are then known events or, in terms of illegal bookmakers, adjusting their odds to know they should be shortening the odds on something, I think that’s where it is a risk of being some sort of minor contagion.”
The press reported that at least three examples of pitch-siding have been reported during the southern hemisphere summer, with one man thrown out of two Twenty20 Big Bash League games and another ejected from the first match of the ODI series between Australia and India.
Meanwhile Flanagan equated match-fixing techniques to paedophilia. “In our line of work we too often meet and know there are rotten people out there, criminal people who will do all in their power to corrupt players and others with influence within the game. They’ll trick them, they’ll coerce them, they’ll try and attract them. They’re almost like paedophiles in how they attempt to groom people into ultimately attempting to do what suits their nefarious intentions in terms of illegal betting and other elements of criminality.”
He added: “We have gone to great lengths to ensure that they don’t get their way and to ensure that they don’t ever get their way in this tournament. I would like to assure you and the paying public that they will be coming to a tournament where all of those involved will ensure it will be free from corruption or threat of corruption.”