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Just How Deep Does the Indian Cricket Betting Scandal Run?

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It looks like the Indian cricket match fixing scandal is just getting started and more heads are about to roll.

Peoples’ love for betting dates back to ancient times and dishonest people have always taken advantage of this. Over the past few years, international gambling news revealed all the details of several match fixing scandals involving football and cricket players.

Stakes are always high in this industry, considering how sports wagering has slowly grown to be one of the most popular forms of gambling. Every year, bookies make huge profits from sports bets. It’s no wonder so many people are tempted to influence their outcome.

Right now, all eyes are on the Indian Premier League (IPL) spot-fixing scandal involving three cricket players and bookies and the show has only just begun.

All in the family

Cricket players Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan were the first ones to be arrested by the Delhi police in May 2013, when the scandal broke out. More arrests followed, as authorities suspected 11 bookmakers were also involved in the spot-fixing operation. One of them was said to be Sreesanth’s cousin.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BBCI) suspended the accused players a few hours after their arrest, invoking strict policies against sports corruption. The sports authority also promised to set up a special commission to investigate the case.

A few days later actor Vindu Dara Singh was also arrested, along with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) former team principal Gurunath Meiyappan. Both were accused of breaking Indian gambling laws. Meiyappan, son-in-law of BBCI president Narayanaswami Srinivasan, was later released on bail, but he did not learn his lesson. The man was soon caught asking the CSK coach about details on the batting order and passing it on to bookmakers.

Meanwhile, Srinivasan announced that he has no plans of stepping down, despite his son-in-law’s alleged involvement in the scandal. Board members did however ask him to stay away from the on-going investigation.

Cricket scandal further unravels

There have been several major scandals in the history of cricket:

• John the bookmaker – 1995
• Marlon Samuels – 2008
• Glenn McGrath – 2003
• Shane Warne – 2003
• Underarm Bowling – 1981

The scandal gained proportions at the end of May, when BBCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale and treasurer Ajay Shirke resigned after much criticism of the way things were being handled. IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla was the next to step down, explaining: “Sanjay Jagdale and Ajay Shirke resigned in the best interest of Indian cricket. I thought this is the right time [to resign].”

With all that pressure from the public, Srinivasan eventually stepped aside, but only temporarily. Meanwhile, the police continued their investigation and found out that Rajastan Royals team co-owner Raj Kundra had also placed bets on his team, through a bookmaker friend.

The owners of the Rajasthan Royals and CSK franchises were cleared by the BBCI, but the Bombay High Court established that the committee looking into the accusations was constituted illegally. According to the ruling, “there was disparity in the evidence collected by the probe panel”.

More recently, a report forwarded by the Justice Mukul Mudgal committee to the Supreme Court said: “The role of Gurunath Meiyappan in Chennai Super Kings (CSK) as the team official stands proved and the allegations of betting and passing of information against Meiyappan stand proved.” The man was indicted for betting.

Where does it end?

The police are still conducting investigations, as it is still not clear how many cricket players or team representatives have placed bets on sports in India during the Premier League matches. “The committee would like to clarify that the interactions with various people and deliberations are still on. The committee has not arrived at any final conclusion yet,” a recent statement said.

Things might just get worse in March, when the six new names are expected to be revealed. India just seem to be sinking deeper and deeper into the scandal, as experts say: “It’s the titanic of Indian cricket that has hit an iceberg. Rats run out first when a ship sinks.”

One thing is certain, that a scandal of such proportions can not only damage the image of Indian cricket, but also disappoint sports fans who expect their favorite players to serve as role models for integrity.

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