Betting can lead to match-fixing: New BCCI ACU boss

The BCCI’s new Anti-Corruption Unit chiefShabir Hussein ShekhadamKhandwawala doesn’t want betting to be legalised in India as it “encourages” match-fixing and feels his biggest challenge will be stamping out “shady activities” from smaller leagues.

There is a school of thought that legalising betting will bring in massive revenues for the government at a time when most of it is going unchecked. But Khandwawala looks at it differently.  “Whether the government legalises betting or not that is a different matter but deep inside, I feel as a police officer that betting can lead to match-fixing. The government, so far, has rightly not legalised betting,” the 70-year-old told PTI.

“Betting encourages match-fixing. So there should not be any change on this, we can make the rules more strict. We will work on that. It is a matter of great prestige that cricket is largely free of corruption. Credit should go to BCCI for that.” In the words of outgoing BCCI ACU chiefAjit Singh, legalising betting is another way of controlling corruption in the game.

Union minister and former BCCI president Anurag Thakur, too, had suggested legalising underground betting and gambling sporting activities last year.  However, Khandwawala, a former DGP of Gujarat, feels otherwise on the subject.

“Betting might be legal in some countries but the people who go into stadiums to watch the game and watch it on television they believe in this game and don’t go to grounds thinking this game could be fixed. We need to protect their belief that game is free of all corruption.”

While the game at the highest level remains more or less clean, corruption cases have come to light in the local and state T20 leagues. With the shortest format thriving, Khandwawala said detecting and preventing “shady” practices in these leagues will be his team’s biggest challenge.

“Our top players are so well paid that they are miles from the menace of match-fixing. We should feel proud about that.

“Rooting out corruption from smaller events and leagues is a big challenge and we need to put an end to it. We need to ensure there is nothing shady happening at all levels of cricket being played in the country. Besides detecting, preventing any shady activity is very important,” he said.

Khandwala feels his love for the game should help him immensely in this new role.

“During my time as a police officer, I organised many (police) tournaments in Gujarat. I have loved the game since childhood.

“A lot of good work has been done in the past and I need to carry that forward. New players coming into the scene are most vulnerable. We need to protect them.”

Khadwawala’s first assignment with the BCCI will be the IPL beginning April 9.