Mohammed Naveed says he “will continue to fight until the end of the day” to clear his name after being banned from cricket for eight years for corruption.
The former UAE captain was found guilty of failing to report a corrupt approach, and “being party to an agreement or effort to fix or contrive or otherwise influence improperly” matches.
This week, an independent tribunal ruled him ineligible to return to the sport until October 2027.
Naveed, though, refuses to accept the findings, and says he plans to appeal the sanction at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland.
"As a Muslim, as a human, I am saying I am not involved in bad thinking," Naveed told The National.
“This was my mistake, for not reporting [a corrupt approach] to ICC or [Emirates Cricket Board]. Now my life is finished, and I will not accept it.
“I will fight however I can. I feel guilty for not reporting, that is just my mistake. Because of one 15 minute meeting, my life is ended.”
Naveed, who earned around Dh11,000 per month in his role as UAE captain, has discussed taking the case to CAS with his legal team.
Registering the case would involve an initial court office fee of around $1,000, but the costs involved in arbitration could extend well beyond that.
Naveed, though, is insistent he will appeal because “this punishment is the same as a life ban”.
The eight-year term Naveed – and his teammate Shaiman Anwar – were given falls short of the maximum sanction their charge carries, which is a life ban.
Realistically, though, it amounts to as much. Their bans are backdated to October 2019, which is when they were initially charged and suspended. By the time it has elapsed, Naveed will be 40, and Shaiman 48.
The tribunal ruled the players had been planning to fix aspects of matches against Ireland and Oman at the 2019 T20 World Cup Qualifier.
It said they had discussed sums ranging up to $270,000 for the work, with Deepak Agarwal, an Indian businessman who was subsequently suspended from the sport due to a separate anti-corruption case.
According to a witness statement concerning a meeting between the trio on a beach in Sharjah in October 2019, Naveed had said: “Bro I am captain of the UAE we can do anything.”
In the sanction report, the independent tribunal stated “these are the most serious offences contemplated by [cricket’s anti-corruption code], because they go to the very core of the fundamental sporting imperatives that underpin it”.
As such, an “appropriate sanction” needed to be sufficient to act as a deterrent to others from similar wrongdoing, as well as “maintaining public confidence in the sport”.
“In the case of Mr Naveed, at the time of his offending he was the captain of the UAE national team,” the report stated.
“[He] thus held a position of trust and owed a duty to uphold the integrity of the game, as he was someone who should have acted as a role model to cricketers in the UAE and elsewhere.
“In the position of captain, Mr Naveed’s offending damages the Emirates Cricket Board and has, at least, the potential to damage cricket more generally, not only in the UAE but globally.”
Naveed, though, maintains he is not guilty. “A hundred percent sure, I will fight this,” he said.
“My position is bad, but I will continue to fight. My family, we are [low-income] people. We are not rich people. This has happened but I will continue to fight.
“My family and friends have supported me, and I will continue to fight until the end of the day. I am not guilty. I have not taken money.”