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AUSTRALIA: Hitting Corruption for Six

By Judith Miller and Julian Conti

The cricket world is in a fierce battle against the increasing use of technology in illegal bookmaking. In order to protect their interests ahead of the World Cup starting in February 2015, the International Cricket Council (ICC) is entering into agreements with the Federal Police in Australia and across the ditch in New Zealand. One such agreement is a memorandum of understanding between the ICC and Australian Federal Police which allows for the sharing of information between the two entities.

Part of the ICC crackdown on illegal bookmaking and match fixing involves placing a “gag” order on groundsmen from Australia’s premier cricketing venues such as the SCG and the Adelaide Oval. Recently, groundsmen from all around the world were flown to New Zealand to attend a meeting where they were warned to stop giving out detailed information about the pitches before matches. Traditionally, groundsmen openly spoke about the pitches that they produced in the lead up to a match. They would supply information about everything from whether they would prefer to bat or bowl first or whether they thought the pitch might favour a particular side. No longer can groundsmen do such things, the ICC is well aware that the information ultimately ends up in the hands of the gambling community prematurely.

The strategy also includes focusing on ejecting “pitchsiders” who attempt to take advantage of live overseas betting markets as a result of slight delays that occur when broadcasting games overseas. Pitchsiders are a relatively new group within the illegal bookmaking world, that transmit play-by-play data from their seats to illegal bookmakers all over the world. This year alone police ejected two men from the second test between Australia and Pakistan in Abu Dhabi after it was suspected they were feeding information over mobile phones to illegal bookmakers. Victoria Police have also investigated a British man who was using a laptop from his seat during a Big Bash League game.

The recent measures taken by the ICC open up an interesting discussion on who owns the rights to the opinions of those involved with organising matches as well as the game data itself. What is certain is that the cricketing world is taking corruption seriously as a result of match fixing scandals that have brought the game into disrepute. The success of these measures will be interesting to monitor.

UPDATE: IRB Sidelines Mobile Phone Usage

Following our last update, the International Rugby Board (IRB) has announced that it is also considering its own measures to maintain the integrity of the game. One of the more controversial measures relates to banning players from using mobile phones before games at next year’s World Cup in London. The use of mobile phones in change rooms is currently being investigated as part of the IRB’s anti-corruption crackdown. Under the proposed plan, players would be forced to hand over their phones when entering the change room, or their use would be monitored to ensure no inside information was leaked to betting agencies. Such a step has already been utilised by the AFL, where players were warned this year not to use mobile phones from the moment they stepped into the change room, until after the final siren sounded.  

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