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Updated: May 24, 2013 23:57 IST

Legalise betting to stop corruption: Boycott

PTI
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Former England batsman and noted commentator Geoff Boycott
Special Arrangement Former England batsman and noted commentator Geoff Boycott

The huge gap in earnings leads to temptation

India should legalise betting to stamp out corruption in cricket, said former England captain Geoffrey Boycott who feels the menace of fixing, which has currently dented the Indian Premier League’s reputation, emerges more frequently in the Asian countries.

“The way to stop it altogether, except for the odd one — but we’re getting too many at the minute — is this business of making betting legal in India. It’s illegal, so people do it,” Boycott told ESPN Cricinfo.

“When beer was illegal in America during prohibition, you had all this illegal drinking and all these mafia-type people and so forth involved. And so you’ll get the worst type of society involved in betting, from the bookies and that sort of people, when you have something that people want to do but it’s illegal,” he said.

But Boycott said it would take a lot out of the Indian Government to decriminalise betting given that it doesn’t “like change“.

“Many people have suggested to the Indian Government that making betting legal at cricket, like it’s legal in horse racing and so on, would stamp most of it [corruption] out,” he said.

“But you know what it’s like. Trying to explain to the Indian Government, they think you are telling them something, they don’t like it and they don’t like to change,” he added.

The former batsman and noted commentator felt that the problem seems to creep up more frequently in the Asian region than any other part of the cricketing landscape.

“We don’t seem to get it in other countries. It seems to be around in Asia. And that’s not me being against Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis.

“You know me, I love that part of the world. They are very kind and good to me, particularly the Indian and Pakistani people, where I’ve been a lot,” Boycott said.

“But I’m telling you the truth, it seems to surface in Asia. And once you’ve got all this money floating around in a huge game with millions and millions involved, you’re going to get problems. It’s going to resurface again,” he added.

Impossible

The Englishman, however, conceded that it would be impossible to completely root out corruption from the game.

“...Irrespective of how many safeguards or preventive measures you introduce, human nature being what it is, there’ll always be the off person that tries to beat the system, tries to do something illegal, that’s always going to happen. It’s not just about cricket. In anything, it’s always going to happen,” he insisted.

“But it is coming up too often and it’s still there. And whether we like it or not, it comes up with Asian players. It came up with the Pakistani lad playing for Essex (Danish Kaneria), didn’t it, the leg-spinner? So it always concerns me and should concern everybody...,” he added.

Ineffective

Boycott said with the police unearthing the latest scandal, it is clear that the anti-corruption units of both the ICC and the individual Boards have been largely ineffective.

“...it wasn’t the ICC or the BCCI’s anti-corruption wing that found out what was happening. All this money is being spent by cricket and they never come up with anything. It’s the Indian police that find it,” he said.

Boycott said one reason for corruption in the game was the huge gap in the earnings of top players and the relatively junior pros. “I think when you have a situation like the IPL, where four players in a team — I know sometimes they have six or seven (such) in a squad — have huge, huge money and then you’re talking about four, five or six of the local Indian players who are not getting paid very much, you have a situation that’s waiting to explode,” he said.

“...when they don’t get paid much money, it’s very tempting.

“You see people getting a million dollars, people like Kevin Pietersen get paid $2 million if they play the entire series, and (if these others) are getting peanuts, then they are open to the bookies,” he said.

Surviving the crisis

Boycott, however, was of the opinion that IPL would survive the crisis if scandals like the ongoing one are not repeated in future.

“When anything like that happens, it does hurt it a bit.

“But I don’t think people are stupid enough to say, ‘Hey, this is all the IPL.’

If somebody robs a bank in Yorkshire, it doesn’t mean Yorkshiremen are corrupt, does it? It’s the same here,” he said.

Geoffrey, first-of-all, let's agree that betting is legal now. Will that prevent, for exchange of huge sums of money, a bowler from bowling a 20-run crap of an over, or a batsman from lobbing his hit to the bowler as smoothly as a flying kiss? Rather, more and more players will cheat--now that it would be legal to do so. So, what will happen to your life-long love Cricket, Mr. Boycott?
Second, every cheating, every crime causes scandals, social and political havoc, eats up lots of money in investigation, causes lots of troubles to those involved and those not. So, do we legalise all crimes, all cheatings? Imagine a world where theft, rape, murder etc. are legal. Do you want to live in there? I donot; so please do not preach crap.

from:  Anil
Posted on: May 24, 2013 at 23:11 IST

The best solution is to scrap IPL forever.

from:  A. Srinivasa Rao
Posted on: May 24, 2013 at 16:55 IST

problem is not betting, the issue here is fixing.
and with legalised betting in Europe, the fixing scandals continue, especially in
football.

from:  Sunil Raina
Posted on: May 24, 2013 at 16:32 IST

Sure, and make rapes legal to reduce instances of crimes against women!

from:  Adam
Posted on: May 24, 2013 at 15:05 IST

Hypocrasy is the hall mark of India,WE follow free market policy,allow
free float of rupee,trade in Essential commodities and shares.But when
asked to legalise sports betting ,they cry foul.
Isnt betting legal in Horse Racing and Rummy.
Such action will control syndicates and make it easy to identify
fixers and generate revenue for the State.
MCX trading has generated 1000s of crores in the form of transaction
tax and Educational cess.
All that is followed for F AND O and MCX to trade should be followed
in Sports betting as well.

from:  harun
Posted on: May 24, 2013 at 14:46 IST

What Boycott does not realise that the Indian mind will find a way to get round anything to stop corruption. Where have attempts to clean up succeeded anywhere in India? From the Middle East and eastwords right up to Indonesia, it is a corrupt world. But with sponsors of the IPL getting jittery, Sahra has already withdrawn, maybe by all of them pulling them they can fix the thugs on the BCCI who have bullied the cricket world for decades without any accountability or audit. They managed this and continue to do so because of their Don and Godfather Pawar. I know people who epitomise the rags to riches story after they managed to get on to State cricket boards. Hence without sponsors, funds will dry up and maybe allow a cleaner and healthier competion in cricket at all levels.

from:  Paddy Singh
Posted on: May 24, 2013 at 12:57 IST

Wrong. As long as black money flourishes in India such illegal betting
will continue. And there is no likelihood of black money culture
ending any time soon. Illegal betting thrives only with illegal income
and wealth. Very few in India will splurge on betting on a large scale
on anything with their hard earned money. Horse racing and the liqour
trade are two prime examples where legalising betting and consumption
of liqour have made no impact on the parallel illegal trade. Other
examples abound. Only severe,crippling and exemplary punishment on
discovery can be effective.

from:  N.S.Rajan
Posted on: May 24, 2013 at 12:48 IST

Mr.Narayan,

Boycott is not senile. That will be a pardonable excuse. These
suggestions come from "Hoiler than thou" attitude of the English.

from:  Sundararajan
Posted on: May 24, 2013 at 12:47 IST

Making betting legal is one aspect and keeping its influence away from players is other. Problem arise when they involve players in it and force them to act against the "Rules of the Game".

from:  Arpit
Posted on: May 24, 2013 at 12:26 IST

Is Boycott senile? Betting breeds fixing. Fixing destroys
sportiveness. Betting fuels fixing to enable an insider make more
money than the public. I agree with him that betting is difficult to
control, and Asians are more corrupt. As long as betting is there,
fixing will also be there. Ban the game for 3 years to get those
involved in this business to break up and move away to some thing
else. Then bring in a pure, money less, cricket based competition
shorn of all glamour and extraneous entertainment. The cocktail brings
the sleaze. Let cricket be the only entertainment in this.

from:  Narayan
Posted on: May 24, 2013 at 11:55 IST
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