Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Cricket: Fixing won't die off - Modi

Former IPL chairman Lalit Modi wants stronger match-fixing deterrents. Photo / AFP
Former IPL chairman Lalit Modi wants stronger match-fixing deterrents. Photo / AFP

Former Indian Premier League chief Lalit Modi is "keeping all options open" as he monitors the International Cricket Council's match-fixing investigation involving former New Zealand players Chris Cairns, Daryl Tuffey and Lou Vincent. Cairns cleared his name last year in the London High Court after Modi tweeted allegations in January 2010 that the former New Zealand cricketer was a match-fixer.

The onus was on Modi to prove his tweet was justified. The judge, Justice David Bean, said Modi had "singularly failed to provide any reliable evidence" and awarded Cairns damages of £90,000 (then about $175,000), with Modi paying Cairns' costs of more than $770,000.

Speaking to the Herald on Sunday from his London base yesterday, Modi exercised caution in his latest response. On Friday, Cairns' barrister Andrew Fitch-Holland said they were issuing Modi with a letter reminding him of an injunction he is not to speak on the matter.

"I can't talk because of the libel suit," Modi says. "All I can say is this is obviously a big investigation, without a doubt.

I'm in the process of gathering information and have already spent a day with my lawyers. These would be shocking revelations if true, but they need to be proven.

"Match-fixing is the single biggest menace to cricket - and any other sport for that matter. The practice is more and more prevalent because [in India] gambling is an ungoverned vehicle for money to be laundered.

There are also not enough global restrictionsto make it disappear."

"Unfortunately it's not going to disappear given the money involved. The problem is potentially in every game and every format. There are two concerns for the people connected; first they try to induce you, then they try to intimidate you. The syndicates involved use any means to extract information."

According to Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy a book on match-fixing written by Ed Hawkins, one infamous case occurred in Dubai during January 2003 ahead of the World Cup in South Africa. Renowned match-fixer Sharad Shetty of Mumbai's D-Company gang was shot dead in the snooker hall of the Indian Club in a hit ordered by rivals.

Modi has suffered death threats and will not return to India until he can be guaranteed better security. There are suggestions he and his family travel in bulletproof vehicles.

Modi wants stronger match-fixing deterrents: "The [Indian] government needs laws which put people in jail. It is no different to insider trading. They [the fixers] target young, impressionable cricketers and it affects young fans. People look up to cricketers as idols.

"I would legalise betting in India to reduce the mafia-type involvement and subject it to stricter regulations because it is ungoverned territory at the moment which makes it like the wild old days in Las Vegas.

"Millions of dollars of bets are placed on matches and devious, underhand bookmakers take advantage. We've coined the term match-fixing but it's not often about the result; it's the sessions of games.

"A bookmaker can predict the odds so much better if they've got a player in their back pocket. It is not necessarily restricted to T20 matches either. If they've recruited a player, they can lay a bet over sessions and it doesn't matter what form they're playing. Seizing on the human nature for greed is more important than the format."

Modi says the ICC and governments are not putting suitable prevention measures in place.

"It is an issue which needs 24/7 attention; they need to employ betting experts. For instance, in business, would you go into any form of trading without the advice of an analyst? No. In the business of cricket or any sport, you need people who understand how betting works because it is big business, a parallel economy, if you like.

"When I ran the Indian Premier League we took precautionary measures like trading the players every three years and introducing salary caps - because unpredictability is critical. We didn't want a Manchester United situation [in English Premier league football] where one team dominates. My feeling is if you hit a sport [with match-fixing], that sport will die.

"The ICL [Indian Cricket League] fell on that basis. Fans want nothing to do with a predictable game.

"We need governments to put in place stringent insider trading laws. Examples need to be made with a zero-tolerance policy. The players are the lowest hanging fruit. Fixers get to them, induce them and if they don't co-operate in future they tread on them. India should be employing a whole anti-corruption department. The police have information, a lot of administrators have information, but they don't want to rock the boat."

Modi works for his multi-million dollar family business Modi Enterprises. He says while cricket was "just a hobby", he hopes to resume a role in the sport in future.

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n3 at 23 Aug 2014 18:24:03 Processing Time: 556ms