Cricket anti-graft chief likens match-fixers to paedophiles
The head of world cricket's anti-corruption body on Sunday compared match-fixers who groom players to paedophiles, as he expressed hope that the imminent World Twenty20 would be scandal-free.
Ronnie Flanagan, head of the International Cricket Council's Anti-Corruption Unit, said it was his 'priority' that the World Twenty20, which starts in India Tuesday, would be remembered for sporting reasons and not corruption.
But he warned cricketers, especially younger players, not to be swayed by the attentions of anyone trying to corrupt the game, saying they had an obligation to report illegal approaches.
"Sometimes these corrupters are like paedophiles and all I mean by that analogy is that they are prepared to spend a long time particularly grooming young players," Flanagan told reporters in Mumbai.
"It might start off with some praise after a match: 'You had a wonderful innings today, that was fantastic, here is my card and my contact, let's keep in touch.'
"That might develop into the offering of a gift, maybe a small gift, which might develop into the offering of more expensive gifts which might then some evening might end up in what we call the honey trap," he added.
Flanagan, formerly one of Britain's most senior police officers, warned that the criminals might then use compromising photographs to try to blackmail the player into cheating in a future match.
Cricket has been rocked by a number of corruption cases recently. Former South African international Gulam Bodi was banned for 20 years in January after admitting trying to fix a match.
That same month India banned off-spinner Ajit Chandila for life over a fixing scandal that erupted over the 2013 edition of the Indian Premier League.
And Sri Lanka suspended its fast bowling coach for two months earlier this year as part of an investigation into allegations of match-fixing against West Indies recently.
The International Cricket Council set up its Anti-Corruption Unit in 2000 after three international captains - Hansie Cronje of South Africa, Pakistan's Salim Malik and India's Mohammad Azharuddin - were banned for life for match-fixing.
Flanagan said the body was determined to root out corruption through educating players and improved detection but conceded that it was not possible to eradicate all forms of match-fixing.
"Human nature is such that it may not be possible to totally eliminate corruption from the game," he said.
Flanagan added he hoped the 16-team World T20, which lasts until April 3, would be clean.
"My priority is that at the end of those four weeks, when we know who has won the world championship, we will be talking about cricket. We will not I hope be talking about corruption," he said.
The World T20 sees the return of disgraced Pakistani bowler Mohammed Amir, who served three months in jail and a five-year ban for spot-fixing in a Test match against England at Lord's in 2010.