Many Indians are fanatical about cricket, as this improvised game on wasteland in Kolkata would tend to suggest. Photograph: Philip Brown/Reuters
Asian cricket was thrown into turmoil last night after an Indian television station claimed it had evidence of six international umpires promising to give decisions in exchange for money.
The umpires, from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, were all claimed to have been filmed by undercover reporters for the little-known India TV channel. A seventh refused the offers made by a disguised journalist,
reports in India said on Monday night. None of the umpires named in the undercover expose were involved in the official games at the recently concluded World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. Several have already denied any wrongdoing.
The International Cricket Council issued a statement on Monday night saying that the body "and its relevant members" had been made aware of the allegations made by India TV.
The ICC also called on the station to pass on any information which could "assist the ICC's urgent investigations into this matter".Its statement added: "The ICC reiterates its zero-tolerance towards corruption whether alleged against players or officials."
Such stings are the stock in trade of Indian television channels. Many are unreliable but a previous such operation by India TV resulted in five players in the Indian Premier League being suspended by local authorities after an undercover reporter posed as a representative of a player-management firm.South Asian cricket has been dogged by a series of allegations of spot-fixing.
Huge sums are gambled on games through illicit bookmakers in India and elsewhere.Such incidents generate enormous attention – on Monday night the news of the alleged sting was leading all bulletins in India – but do not seem to impact on the popularity of the sport