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The world of sport has certainly seen its fair share of scandal. From the horse murders of the 70s and 80s to the more recent allegations of match fixing in Italian football, it would appear that almost no sport is safe from the shame of dishonesty and the public embarrassment that comes with it.
The spotlight this time falls on three Pakistani cricketers, Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, who were accused and, as of the 1st of November, criminally convicted of conspiracy to cheat at gambling and accept corrupt payments.
An undercover investigation by reporters from the News of the World exposed the players secretly conversing with bookmaker Mazhar Majeed in a plot to intentionally play worse at pre-determined stages of a match against England in 2010. The scandal aroused intense reception from the Pakistani government and the cricketing community who expressed immense shock and disbelief at the actions of such internationally renowned players.
It continues to shock me that some players feel the need to jeopardise not only their career but the image of the very game they play for a living in order to satisfy what can only be described as an insatiable desire for money. As professional sportsmen it is highly likely that their wage exceeds what most can only dream of and this questions their actions even further. I am astounded by their reasoning and cannot think what logic they based their decision to commit these shameful acts on.
Another controversy that resurfaced as a result of the investigation is the News International phone hacking scandal. Severely bashed for the shrewd and ruthless targeting of private phone calls the corporation is often condemned and criticised for its clandestine operations. In this instance, however, there is an argument to praise their detective work to some degree. Sceptics would say that two wrongs don’t make a right but when such a large-scale fraud is uncovered as a result of unscrupulous action could there be an air of acceptance from the public?
It would seem to be unfair and hypocritical to consent to shady journalism when it creates a positive outcome but then condemn it again when the public sees innocent people victimised. Despite this there has been no great uproar about the particular operation, perhaps it is the case that News of the World is the hero for a day or perhaps its wrongdoing is merely being overshadowed by the greater evil that is the crime committed by the three cricketers.
Either way, the image of Pakistani cricket has clearly been tarnished and whether this will have a permanent effect remains to be seen. I for one feel sorry for the players who had no part in the criminality and who, perhaps, are being tarred with the same brush. Hopefully one day soon the team, and the sport, can recover from this incident and return being an honest and trustworthy community.