Australia news June 6, 2011

Australia considers match-fixing laws

Match-fixing in any sport in Australia will be made an offence, perhaps punishable by a 10-year jail term, under proposed legislation to be considered by the federal and state governments this week.

The Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS), of which the former ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed is executive director, will present a working party paper on corruption to the federal minister for sport, senator Mark Arbib, on Wednesday.

State government sports ministers will then meet with Arbib on Friday with a view towards introducing uniform regulations across each state to govern the integrity of sport.

Penalties would be a matter for each state, but Arbib has already suggested the possibility of 10 years in jail as an appropriate punishment.

Other measures will include the outlawing of information being passed on from sportsmen or support staff that could be used to make bets, the equivalent of insider trading. It was exchanges of this kind that saw Mark Waugh and Shane Warne under the spotlight in 1998.

Also likely to be brought under tighter control is the range of exotic or spot bets that can be placed on various elements of a match - such as the bowling of no-balls, the order of bowlers or the number of runs to be scored off an over. This would render meaningless to the betting market any questionable acts by complicit players, like the deliberate no-balls bowled by Mohammad Amir at Lord's last year.

World cricket is watching the progress of possible legislation in Australia, as other countries will be more likely to consider similar measures once a precedent has been set.

Cricket's long and pained history of match-fixing, and the involvement of bookmakers and their go-betweens, has meant that Australia's administrators are playing a lead role in the push for government intervention in the issue. James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive, is chairman of COMPPS, while CA's chief legal counsel Dean Kino has been instrumental in the drafting of the proposal.

"There's a meeting on Wednesday of sporting CEOs in Melbourne, they have a regular CEOs meeting, but at this meeting the working party paper on corruption in sport will be tabled," a CA spokesman said. "The federal minister for sport Mark Arbib will also be present.

"There's been quite a lot of discussion between James Sutherland and Mark Arbib and the other CEOs, and a meeting will follow on Friday between government ministers."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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