UAE players being found guilty of match-fixing 'sends a strong message to anyone else who might be tempted'

Head of the ICC’s anti-corruption unit insists 'cricket fans can trust what they are seeing' as Naveed and Shaiman face lifetime bans from the sport

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - October 22, 2018: Mohammad Naveed of the UAE bowls in the match between the UAE and Australia in a T20 international. Monday, October 22nd, 2018 at Zayed cricket stadium oval, Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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The head of the ICC’s anti-corruption unit says he remains confident cricket fans “can trust what they are seeing”, in the wake of two UAE players being found guilty of contriving to fix international matches.

Mohammed Naveed and Shaiman Anwar were this week found guilty of corruption offences which carry with them the potential for lifetime bans from the sport.

An independent tribunal ruled they had been planning to fix aspects of matches at the 2019 T20 World Cup Qualifier, and discussed sums ranging up to $270,000 for the work.

Naveed, who was the UAE captain until the time the duo were provisionally suspended in October 2019, was also found guilty of similar charges related to the Abu Dhabi T10, which was set to follow that Qualifier.

Alex Marshall, the general manager of the ICC ACU, said the tribunal’s verdict sent a strong message about corruption.

"It is always sad to see these events happening in cricket, but it is also very good to see bad people prevented from committing corruption," Marshall told The National.

“It sends a strong message to anyone else who might be tempted. This was a plot to corrupt international cricket and the T10.

“The plot was stopped, but there was no doubt of the dishonest intent of these two, and what they would have done if they had gone through with the fixing.”

The sanctions facing the players are likely to be confirmed in around two weeks’ time.

Once the judgement was announced, the ACU and the two players were invited to write to the tribunal to suggest what they each feel would be a suitable punishment.

Naveed had already turned down an agreed sanction with the ACU, in favour of taking the case to tribunal.

Having now been found guilty, five years is the minimum suspension they will face. In likelihood, it could be as much as 20 years, or even the maximum of a life ban.

The ACU had presented around 400 pages of evidence to the tribunal, while Naveed and Shaiman were each represented by lawyers when the case was heard remotely back in November.

After two months, the tribunal published a 46-page report reasoning out their decision.

It said the tribunal were “comfortably satisfied” the players had “contrived to fix the result, progress, conduct or other aspect of one or more international matches”, as well as their failure to report an approach to do so.

“Their behaviour was wholly inconsistent with that of persons repelled by a corrupt approach; and wholly consistent with that of persons who either instigated such an approach or were willing recipients of one,” the report stated.

Marshall, whose team will be overseeing the 2021 season of the Abu Dhabi T10, which starts on Thursday, said they remain focused on protecting the sport.

“I am very pleased with the thoroughness of the investigation by my staff,” Marshall said.

“We will carry on protecting cricket from the small number of people who threaten to damage the game for everyone who watches or plays it.

“We keep a close eye on all high-level cricket, particularly international cricket. I remain confident that fans can trust what they are seeing.

“However, there are corrupters out there, who are trying to get into the game, trying to find people who are willing to do he wrong thing, trying to make profits from illegal betting.

“We will not drop our guard in pursuing and disrupting corrupters.”

Naveed reiterated that he failed to report a corrupt approach, but still maintains he is innocent of the charge of planning to fix.

“On the first day, I accepted that was my mistake – not reporting,” Naveed said. “I accept that I should be punished for that, but not the second charge.”

Shaiman could not be contacted for comment.

The Emirates Cricket Board have yet to comment on the guilty verdict of the duo.

Three other UAE players – Qadeer Ahmed, Ashfaq Ahmed and Amir Hayat – remain suspended, pending separate corruption investigations.