London: Paul Condon, the former head of the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption unit, has blown the myth that match fixing is prevalent only in the sub-continent.
In an interview with the London Evening Standard, Condon said: "In the late 1990s, Test and World Cup matches were being routinely fixed." "There were a number of teams involved in fixing, and certainly more than the Indian sub-continent teams were involved.''
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"Every international team, at some stage, had someone doing some funny stuff." Condon, a key figure in persuading the British government to make cheating in sport a criminal offence in the 2005 Gambling Act, said that the root of the problem lay not in Asia but in English county cricket.
"It started with friendly fixes in the UK in the old Sunday leagues," he says. "Over a weekend you'd have a county side playing their match and then a Sunday league match and there would be friendly fixes, not for money but for manipulating places in the leagues. If you're Team A and have a higher position in the Sunday league and I'm captain of Team B and my team have no chance in the Sunday league, I might do a deal to ensure you got maximum points in your Sunday league match. You would reciprocate in the County Championships. These friendly fixes quickly became more sinister, probably in the 80s."
Corruption in cricket again came to the forefront after the Pakistani trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer were found guilty and jailed term for their involvement in spot fixing in the Lord's Test against England last year.
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Condon, a former head of London's Metropolitan Police, was approached by ICC to setup an anti-corruption unit after Hansie Cronje was unmasked taking money to fix games. "The game was in meltdown, sponsors were walking away, demanding their money back," he said.
In another interview to 'The Cricketer', Condon attributes the re-emergence of corruption to Twenty20 cricket. "Probably the greatest trigger point was the explosion of T20. The 'anything goes' party atmosphere allowed some really bad people back into the game. Some of the notorious fixers from early years started to re-emerge on the circuit in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Australia and the UK."
He revealed that over the past 10 years up to six national teams have been subject to attention from the authorities. “Since 2000 there have been probably five or six national teams who at some stage have been causing concern and have been closely monitored and scrutinised. In terms of frequency, probably Pakistan has been the most challenging in recent years."