New Zealand news July 31, 2014

NZ bill proposes imprisonment as fixing punishment

ESPNcricinfo staff

New Zealand is seeking to address the issue of corruption in sport before the 2015 World Cup with the introduction of a bill that makes match-fixing a crime. The bill, a proposed amendment to the Crimes Act of 1961, was introduced in May and the first reading was unanimously approved in New Zealand's parliament on Thursday.

The bill seeks to classify fixing in sport as a crime and, in its current form, proposes a punishment of up to seven years' imprisonment for individuals who manipulate or influence the outcome of a game for personal benefit. The ambit of the proposed bill extends to all matches under sporting codes as well as races, such as horse, boat or car races.

New Zealand's justice minister, Judith Collins, said the bill was designed to protect the integrity of sport in New Zealand.

"This is a short, but very important bill. It is designed to protect the integrity of New Zealand sport," Collins said. "Match-fixing is a growing problem internationally and has been described as the No 1 threat to the integrity, value and growth of sport.

"As we have seen with recent events, New Zealand is not immune to this growing threat. That's why the government is taking action on this matter."

The reading of the bill comes a few weeks after Lou Vincent's admission of involvement in fixing. Vincent had been under investigation by the ICC's anti-corruption and security unit since December last year, after which he was charged by the ECB for fixing domestic games. Vincent was given a life-ban by the ECB, a penalty that was supported by New Zealand Cricket.

Fixing legislation in some form is also present in a few other cricket countries. In 2011, all states and territories in Australia agreed to bring in criminal legislation against fixing. While a few states have already done so, others are in the process of bringing in such laws, but there is no federal law in place. In England, the law is aimed at punters and cheating but not specifically fixing. Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, has stated that the board is working with the government on laws that make fixing a criminal offence.

The match-fixing bill will now be taken up by a law and order select committee. The bill could be passed into law before the World Cup and the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, which New Zealand will host later next year.