Anti-corruption news June 2, 2011

Spot-fixing bans 'too lenient', players say

ESPNcricinfo staff

The three Pakistan players accused of spot-fixing in the Lord's Test got off lightly, according to the majority of players polled in a recent survey. The Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA) has revealed the results of its player survey, and 77% of respondents believed the penalties handed to the Pakistan trio were too lenient.

An ICC tribunal found Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif guilty of orchestrating deliberate pre-planned no-balls during the Test against England last August, and they received bans ranging from five to ten years. All three men could be free to play officially-sanctioned cricket again in five years, due to part of the penalties for Asif and Butt involving suspended sentences. None of the 45 players surveyed believed the penalties were too harsh, while 23% considered the bans "fair".

The process by which the three Pakistanis were punished was more complex than a simple ICC edict. Under the anti-corruption code, the decision must be deliberated over by an independent tribunal, with the verdict and penalties handed down from those arbiters. Provisions for far harsher punishments are included in the code.

Although the ICC has achieved its goal of making players aware of the Anti-Corruption Code - 100% of players said they were given education on the code before the World Cup - it's not all good news for the game's governing body. While 100% of players said they would report any suspicious approach they received, 20% did not have confidence in the ICC's anti-corruption unit treating that information confidentially.

Two-thirds of the players said they would be more comfortable reporting any approach to their team manager than to the anti-corruption unit, despite their obligation to do so. Tim May, the chief executive of FICA, said the responses from the players surveyed was an indication that they wanted a tougher stance on corruption.

"This sends a strong signal to stakeholders that the vast number of players want significant penalties to be invoked against those who are found guilty of serious corruption offences," May said.

FICA co-ordinates the activities of players' associations in seven countries: Australia, England, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Bangladesh. Notably, Pakistan and India are the two major Test-playing nations - along with Zimbabwe - who are not affiliated with FICA.

In addition to being found guilty of spot-fixing by the ICC, Butt, Asif and Amir are now facing criminal charges in the UK. Under Britain's Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, penalties of up to seven years in prison can be meted out for accepting corrupt payments. The trio also face charges under the Gambling Act 2005.

The players were questioned by Scotland Yard detectives after the News of the World tabloid newspaper made accusations that they had orchestrated deliberate no-balls in the Lord's Test.