Cricket was again at the centre of match-fixing allegations on Monday when an Indian television channel accused two international umpires of corruption.
The International Cricket Council asked Indian TV News to hand over its tapes after broadcasting allegations that a total of six umpires from three countries had offered to fix in return for bribes as part of an undercover sting.
“The ICC and its relevant members have been made aware of the allegations made by India TV this evening and calls on the station to turn over any information which can assist the ICC’s urgent investigations into this matter,” said an ICC spokesman in a statement.
The umpires named were Nadeem Ghauri and Anees Siddiqui of Pakistan, Nadir Shah of Bangladesh, and Gamini Dissanayake, Maurice Winston and Sagara Gallage from Sri Lanka.
Of the six, Shah is the most prominent as he is a serving member of the ICC’s international panel, officiating in an international match as recently as last December, while Ghauri has stood in 43 one-day internationals, although he was dropped by the ICC two years ago.
Shah was filmed apparently offering to change decisions in return for a bribe and alleged corruption to have taken place in the Bangladesh Premier League earlier this year, a competition which involved several county players.
Mustafa Kamal, president of the Bangladesh Cricket Board, said it will investigate the allegations. “I came to know about it from the media. So, I am not in a position to make any comment. But if it (the allegations) is true, we will definitely investigate into it. But we have to wait until and unless we have the full details.”
This sting involved reporters posing as agents from a sports management company and mainly carried out their interviews over the past three months with the umpires on the internet via Skype. Only Shah was interviewed face to face by the undercover reporters.
He said on Monday night: “This is a plot to malign my character. I was taken to Delhi by a Bangladeshi agent to sign a contract for umpiring in the Sri Lanka Premier League. But when I saw these people are corrupt, I changed my decision and did not conduct any match in the SLPL. I was never involved in anything like fixing.”
The programme alleged Ghauri offered to help India in future matches while Galage is seen on Skype offering to “manage” the match referee and other officials.
The programme was grandly entitled ‘Operation World Cup’ but none of the officials involved stood in the recently concluded World Twenty20.
But two did officiate as reverse umpires in warm-up matches including the game between England and Australia on Sep 17. The programme alleged Maurice Winston handed over information about teams, conditions and the toss 90 minutes before that match in return for a bribe of 50,000 rupees, approximately £600. Galage is recorded offering the same information before the warm-up between Pakistan and India while also offering to give a Pakistani batsman not out during a Sri Lanka Premier League match.
The allegations will spark an investigation by the ICC’s anti-corruption unit although ultimately the investigations and any disciplinary processes may become the responsibility of each national board.
“The ICC re-iterates its zero tolerance towards corruption whether alleged against players or officials. The ICC confirms that none of the umpires named were involved in any of the official games of the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka,” it said.
The same channel broadcast a similar sting earlier this year which alleged corruption by five Indian players in domestic Twenty20, which resulted in bans for those involved.