Al Jazeera criticises ICC, CA, ECB responses to spot-fixing allegations
Gb news24 desk//
Television news channel Al Jazeera has hit out at the manner in which the ECB and CA dismissed allegations of spot-fixing involving their teams in its documentary, The Munawar Files, adding that the ICC had failed to answer questions about the alleged “match-fixer at the centre of our investigation” Aneel Munawar.
The documentary, the second on corruption in cricket by Al Jazeera, claimed that up to 15 international matches – several of them Tests – in the 2011-12 period had been subject to spot-fixing. Munawar was also at the centre of their first documentary, which alleged that the Chennai Test in December 2016 and the Ranchi Test in March 2017 had been subject to spot-fixing by England and Australia players.
The ICC, CA and ECB said Al Jazeera had refused to share information regarding the various corruption allegations despite repeated requests, and the two national boards said there was no credible evidence to support claims of spot-fixing.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit said it had been five weeks since the channel put certain questions to the ICC, and now urged them to answer the following:
“When did the ICC first became aware of Munawar and his activities and what action was taken?
“What action has it taken to track down Munawar since our first documentary was broadcast on May 27, 2018?
“Is Munawar on the ICC’s list of known match-fixers?
“Is it the ICC’s view that some formats of international cricket, including Test matches, are not vulnerable to spot-fixing?
“Is the ICC confident that match-fixers cannot get close to international players?
“How many players, international and others, has the ICC found guilty of match-fixing or spot-fixing in the past five years?
“Who are those players and what were the punishments handed out in each case?
“Given the ICC’s limited investigatory powers, what should be done to tackle the organised criminals behind match-fixing?”
In the documentary, Al Jazeera claimed that the ICC’s ACU had been aware of Munawar being linked to corruption in cricket as early as 2010, when the Oval ODI between England and Pakistan was under scrutiny and subsequently cleared of suspicion. The documentary also showed photographs – supposedly taken in Colombo around the 2012 World T20 – in which Munawar appeared in the same frame as several top international cricketers.
Al Jazeera, in its statement, said the denial of the allegations from the boards “simply failed to engage with the specific and compelling evidence”.
“We are particularly struck by what appears to be a refusal in some quarters even to accept the possibility that players from Anglo-Saxon countries could have engaged in the activities exposed by our programme and that the evidence we have uncovered even merits appropriate investigation,” Al Jazeera said. “Rather than merely dismissing our findings, we would urge our critics to engage with their detail and, if they remain determined to argue that the spot-fixes suggested by the evidence never took place, to explain how it was that Munawar was able to predict what would happen in 25 out of 26 cases before the sessions in question had even begun, notwithstanding that the odds of this happening were many millions to one.”
Al Jazeera claimed that Munawar was associated with South Asian mafia organisation D-Company, and that they had recovered a cache of recorded phone conversations between him and clients, in which Munawar detailed the specifics of pre-arranged spot-fixes during matches.
Al Jazeera has claimed and continues to do so that it does not have confidence in the ICC to be able to police the game.
“The ICC has repeatedly ‘demanded’ that we hand over our evidence to them,” Al Jazeera said in its statement. “We have always said that we will hand over our material to the relevant authorities. However, no reputable broadcaster does this before broadcast and, furthermore, as our inquiries have progressed, we have become increasingly concerned at the ICC’s ability and resolve to police the game; its failure to respond to our simple, factual questions shows a disturbing lack of transparency and only aggravates those concerns.
“It is for this reason that we are in discussions with Interpol about handing over the evidence to them. We are not ruling out handing over material to the ICC – but feel that it must first accept some accountability and answer the legitimate questions raised by our investigation.”
The ICC is not expected to issue a response for the moment. Further, it is believed that Munawar does not feature as a top corrupting threat in the 20-plus live investigations the ICC’s anti-corruption unit is currently undertaking, other than through the Al Jazeera investigations.