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FICA chief Paul Marsh wants independent anti-corruption unit to oversee cricket issues

Paul Marsh also said that corruption is not limited to the actions of players on the field © Getty Images
Paul Marsh also said that corruption is not limited to the actions of players on the field © Getty Images

New Delhi: May 16, 2014

Federation of International Cricketers Associations (FICA) chief Paul Marsh on Friday said it is important to have an independent integrity unit in place to oversee cricket because corruption is not limited to the actions of players on the field.

In the wake of the development that ICC‘s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) will be reviewed by the Big Three [BCCI, CA and ECB] cricket boards and revelations about the investigation surrounding the former New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent, Marsh said: “It’s absolutely critical to have an independent anti-corruption unit.

“Whether it is exactly in its current form is something for people closer to it than me to judge, but I think it is critical we have an independent body investigating these issues,” Marsh told ESPNcricinfo.

“One because issues of corruption aren’t just limited to what happens on the field with the players, and if you work on the assumption that administrators could be also subject to anti-corruption investigations you have to have an independent body doing that,” he added.

There have been reports that ICC’s ACSU is to be reviewed by the game’s Big Three nations, with the body potentially being asked to report directly to the chairman of the board rather than the chief executive of the ICC.

Marsh was worried by the report as he felt it is best for the game to keep the ACSU away from the boards of member nations so that it could investigate instances of corruption at all levels, not merely those on the pitch.

However, Marsh also felt it was necessary to evolve the body to keep pace with the constantly changing scenario of cricket in the wake of domestic Twenty20 tournaments that have become a far more fertile environment for corruption.

Vincent recently provided the ICC anti-corruption unit “with a treasure trove of information about matches that were targeted for spot-fixing and the names of players” involved.

His list includes alleged instances of spot-fixing at the English T20 cricket and the Champions League Twenty20.

“What we’ve seen over the last few years is the view that in international cricket the anti-corruption unit around that is decent,” Marsh said.

“But the risk has gone down to that next level and we’ve seen issues in county cricket. There have been allegations around even the Indian Premier League (IPL),” Marsh said.

“So it shows there’s got to be a focus not just on international cricket but domestic cricket and T20 tournaments. It’s an area of risk, players are probably not educated as well as they are at the international level.”

Marsh said: “You’ve got to get the best anti-corruption people you can get who are independent and are able to manage these tournaments. They are hopefully working in conjunction with the local people because the reality is the anti-corruption unit comes in for this tournament, they’re not there for 12 months.

“There’s a lot of intelligence that can be gathered over 12 months … if a player is involved, or an administrator, coach or umpire, they are not going to be limiting their activities to eight weeks of the IPL.

“You’ve got to work together, but it’s really important you have an independent body that is looking at each of these issues. As much for what it looks like as for what it actually is. It’s the biggest stench that surrounds our game, but not only do you want a sport that’s free from corruption, it’s got to look like it’s free from it,” he said.

Marsh also suggested that the whistle blowers should be shown leniency as it will encourage the players to come forward and report any corrupt activity.

“We’d like to see some sort of incentive for players to report. In this case you have a player who is alleged to have done certain things and appears to have admitted to certain things,” he said.

“If he is able to get some sort of leniency for taking what is a brave step not only reporting but providing information about others, then I think it’s important that everyone sees there is some sort of leniency shown if a player does that. I certainly don’t advocate that a player should get off free, but there’s got to be some incentive there, otherwise players probably will run the gauntlet.”

Catch all the stories on Lou Vincent’s revelations on fixing here

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