Former ICC Chief Ehsan Mani recently said that the only way to control match-fixing on the sub-continent was to legalize betting in India. The recent rise in cricket match fixing has been predominantly dominated by match fixers who are of Indian origin.
Mr. Mani estimated that nearly $500 million was on the line during the recent India vs. Pakistan fixture, although he did not confirm how he arrived at that amount. High profile tournaments like the Cricket World Cup and the Indian Premier League are always under a cloud of match fixing.
With huge sums of money being passed around, players will always be tempted to compromise on their commitment towards the game. A recent report suggested that match fixers are now using Bollywood actresses to gain access to the players, who then lure them over and help work out a deal.
Mr. Mani said “Unless the betting industry is brought under control in India, you can’t stop match-fixing. There’s no doubt that India, certainly Delhi and Mumbai, is the epicentre of cricket betting. – I’m a strong advocate of legalizing betting in India, and bringing it under control of regulatory authorities so that the conduct of bookies can be monitored properly. You’ll find that the risk of corrupting players around the world will reduce significantly.”
Since the possibility of eliminating match fixing was next to impossible, Mr. Mani urged the BCCI to take up the issue with the Indian Government so that betting can be made legal. However, the BCCI did not respond to his statement and is unlikely to consider his request.
While it is true that it is extremely difficult to eradicate match fixing, the idea of legalizing it will not solve the issues of spot fixing and match fixing. A better measure would be to impose life bans on any cricketer convicted of spot fixing and match fixing as it will be an ever present reminder that their career could come to an abrupt end, if they engaged in a manner that contradicted the very spirit of the game!