ICC World T20: Anti-Corruption Unit chief hopes for clean tournament

The International Cricket Council has put in place checks and balances to eliminate corruption during the upcoming World T20 Championship starting in two days' time in the country, said the world governing body's Anti-Corruption Unit's chairman, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, on Sunday.

Saying that like in the past major ICC events, a 24-hour tournament-specific hotline has been set up to report on "corrupt approaches" by the players and others, Sir Flanagan also cautioned that due to human nature it may not be entirely possible to root out the menace.

"There are 58 games, for men and women in the World T20 Championships which, we hope, will be an unforgettable experience. My priority is that at the end of the tournament we will be talking about cricket and the unforgettable experience and not, I hope, about corruption," said the ICC official at a media conference here.

ICC World T20 logo. AFP

ICC World T20 logo. AFP

"Our activity is designed to prevent corruption, to disrupt activities of those who try to corrupt the game. We engage in education programme for players, support staff, match officials (etcetera) and tell them they must report any suspicious approach made to them and that if they fail to report such approaches to them they commit an offence within the parameters of the ICC's Anti-Corruption code.

"We give them a little booklet to fit into their wallet which also has hotline numbers to contact us at any time. We have a tournament-specific 24-hour hotline and another hotline to our office in Dubai. Last year there were 450 reports and we take them all seriously. They range across all spectrum but we need concrete intelligence to act upon and not gossips.

"Human nature is such that it may not be possible to totally eliminate these corrupters. What we seek to do is to make cricket a very difficult environment to corrupt," said Sir Flanagan.

On the hotline set up by the ICC, Sir Flanagan said, "I am talking about two different hotlines...There is a hotline for this tournament (ICC World T20) which is a mobile phone of one of anti-corruption officers and he has been directed that phone will be on 24x7 and that's something we did at the last World Cup (2015 Cricket World Cup in Australia and NZ) and that's something we do at major tournaments.

"In addition to that, we have a hotline that goes back to the office in Dubai. So when the tournament is over and somebody comes by some information they like to pass on, there this is the hotline they can dial on our website. We give it to all the players, support staff, officials. They carry it in wallets just like cards. Even if the office in Dubai is not manned, there would be a recorded message," he explained.

Sir Flanagan also revealed that the anti-corruption unit has recently come across an instance where an unnamed team's players were intending to indulge in corrupt practices but they were aborted by the ICC's intervention.

"Quite recently, we had reason to believe that members of a particular team had intentions to manipulate the game in forthcoming matches. This was an international team, but I am not going to give any details. The case is still under our investigation, so the individuals we believe had intention to manipulate, to facilitate betting on those attempts."

"Barring in mind that we exist to prevent corruption, we decided in this particular case to intervene. We would (now) bring together the entire squad, focus on individuals whom we suspected. We would remind them and the entire squad of all the responsibilities.

"I am certain that our action in that particular case did indeed avert and prevent the intention of just one or two individuals. We have taken action against those individuals and we will be taking further action. These are concrete examples of action we take place based on intelligence. We have averted, prevented intention of bad people to corrupt the game," he elaborated.
Sir Flanagan said whenever he's asked whether it is possible to root out the menace of corruption from any game, his stock answer is "can you completely eliminate ill health".

"We can improve prevention, treatment and cure. There are always people who will try to make money through corrupt means. The young players are especially vulnerable. Sometimes these corrupters are like "Peter Pans" seeking out young players.

"They compliment them first, offer them their contact numbers, small gifts followed by some expensive gifts which may on some evenings then end up in what what we call the "honey trap", drawing them into "compromising circumstances", which they (corrupters) use later to blackmail them. We constantly educate the players and others about the methods these corrupters employ.

"We are a small unit in ICC, dealing with corruption. We are not the police force, don't have the power of the police force nor do we seek the power of the police. We have very good relationship with the police bodies of all countries where cricket is played.

"For example, in last year's ICC Cricket World Cup - which was conducted in Australia and New Zealand - we had memorandum of understanding drawn up with the Australian Federal police and New Zealand police.

"We shared intelligence with them on a daily basis. Within the next few weeks I will be travelling to UK to sign another MoU with their national crime agency," he said, adding, "We encourage domestic units to do this."

Asked whether he supports legalisation of betting in India, as has been recommended by the Supreme Court-appointed Justice R N Lodha Committee, Sir Flanagan said it was not in the ICC's domain to suggest what should be done by a sovereign country's authorities.

"Honestly, it is not for me to suggest what a sovereign nation does, but I do say that where betting is legalised it is heavily regulated and those regulators work in close conjunction with us.

"It's not for me to suggest what a wonderful country like India should do in terms of legislation or its law, but if it decides (to legalise betting), we would be seeking close collaboration with the regulators."


Updated Date: Mar 06, 2016 14:51 PM

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