Pakistan Cricketers Found Guilty of Fixing

November 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

2011-11-01T131231Z_16785135_GM1E68S1I0H01_RTRMADP_3_CRICKET-PAKISTAN-TRIAL

Pakistan’s Mohammad Asif fields the ball during the fourth cricket test match against England at Lord’s cricket ground in London in this August 28, 2010 file photo. Pakistan cricketers Asif and Salman Butt were found guilty on Tuesday of fixing part of a test match against England last year. Former captain Butt and opening bowler Asif were convicted of conspiracy to cheat at London’s Southwark Crown Court, the Press Association reported.     

REUTERS/Philip Brown/Files

Pakistani cricketers Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were found guilty by a London jury of spot-fixing. They were found guilty, by a unanimous decision, on the charge of “conspiracy to cheat” and guilty by a 10-2 majority decision on the charge of “conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments.” The sentences will be pronounced by the judge, Justice Cooke, on Wednesday and Thursday; both players will remain on bail until then. The convictions, reached by the jury of the Southwark Crown Court in London after 16 hours and 56 minutes of deliberation, carry jail terms: a maximum prison sentence for the acceptance of corrupt payments is seven years in jail, while “conspiracy to cheat” carries a maximum two-year sentence.

This particular case focused on the Lord’s Test match in August of 2010, when Butt and Asif conspired with teammates Majeed, Amir and other unknown bowlers to bowl pre-determined no-balls during England’s innings. They were exposed by the now defunct British tabloid the News of the World in an undercover sting operation. Majeed was filmed revealing when no-balls would be delivered by the bowlers, video footage of which was played to the jury early in the trial.

The verdicts were handed down almost four weeks after the trial started, on October 4. Butt, wearing a velvet jacket and shirt without a tie, showed no emotion as the verdicts were read out and stared at the jury stony-faced. An hour earlier, in a bitter twist of fate, his wife Gul Hassan was understood to have given birth to a second son back in Pakistan. Asif, wearing a grey winter coat in the dock, was equally unmoved and neither player said a word or made any obvious facial expression.

The jury were unable to reach a verdict on the “accepting corrupt payments” charge against Asif, and Justice Cooke immediately retired them to deliberate some more in case they could reach a verdict on that fourth charge, which they did after more than three hours.

The unambiguous nature of the verdict was welcomed by the Metropolitan Police. “All I want to say that this is cheating pure and simple,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Matt Horne. “They let down everyone that bought a ticket and they let down children when they were role models to those very children who are playing such a special game. I think we all look forward to this game being played in its truest spirit as we go forward from these types of issues. I also acknowledge the role that investigative journalism has played in this case.”

Sally Walsh, Senior Lawyer in the Special Crime and Counter-Terrorism Division of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif deliberately and knowingly perverted the course of a cricket match for financial gain… This prosecution shows that match fixing is not just unsportsmanlike but is a serious criminal act.

“People who had paid good money to see a professional and exciting game of cricket on the famous ground at Lord’s had no idea that what they were watching was not a true game but one where part of the game had been pre-determined for cash…the jury has decided after hearing all the evidence that what happened on the crease that day was criminal in the true sense of the word.”

The players have already been punished by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after a disciplinary hearing in Doha, Qatar, earlier this year. Each was banned from the sport for at least five years. Butt received a further suspended five-year ban and Asif was handed a further two-year suspended sanction. Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, said after the London verdicts were announced that the jury’s decisions, as well as Mohammad Amir’s own guilty plea, will “have no impact” on the length of the suspensions its own tribunal handed out. All three players have filed appeals against their bans at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

There was further ignominy for the sport of cricket on this day as fellow Pakistani cricketer Mohammad Amir, the teenage Pakistani fast bowler, had pleaded guilty to the same two charges before the trial began. He is now scheduled for what is termed a “Newton Hearing” to decide the quantum of punishment. There is no jury officially present at this type of hearing, but a group of jurors is given permission to sit in and watch if they wish. In addition, it was revealed that there are plans to investigate further matches on Pakistan’s 2010 tour of England.

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Bollywood Scores: Shahrukh Khan Wins

February 18, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, MMNS India Correspondent

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: By not simply rallying unitedly in favor of Shahrukh Khan-starrer: My Name Is Khan, but doing so with an amazingly zeal, Bollywood-team set the stage for film-fans across the world to head for theatres screening the movie. So much so, one got the impression that with Shahrukh as their “captain,” the Bollywood-team  was on the “pitch” to give Shiv Sainiks a thorough drubbing. A similar message was conveyed by headlines stating: “Khan scores, Sena misses,” “MNIK wins, Sena loses,” “Khan hits, Sena in pits,”…. Of course, Bollywood team was compelled to display this posture against shrill calls raised by Shiv Sena activists. The latter protested against release of MNIK primarily because Shahrukh had earlier questioned absence of Pakistani cricketers in Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament. Questioning Shahrukh’s “support” for Pakistani players, Shiv Sena issued a diktat saying that theatres must not release the movie- MNIK.

Initially, there were speculations that multiplexes in Mumbai would follow Shiv Sena’s diktat. There were also apprehensions that screening of the movie in Mumbai and other parts of the country would incite violence and create tension. But Shiv Sena’s protest failed to win people’s support even in Mumbai. When 35 of 40 theatres in Mumbai decided to go ahead with the movie’s release (February 12), they received an enthusiastic response from moviegoers. The movie was screened in all theatres in Maharashtra the following day. Though some stones were thrown on Friday at Fun Republic, no damage was caused. Besides, security was tight at all theatres, particularly in Mumbai to check potential violence from Shiv Sena members. 

What stands out is the “secular unity” displayed by movie goers across the world, even in Gujarat. Despite saffron brigade having warned against its release in Gujarat, the movie ran to packed houses in most parts of the state.  The message simply conveyed was that people are in no mood to let saffron brigade and/or its associates decide their movies’ choice. Nor are they convinced by Shiv Sena questioning Shahrukh Khan’s “nationality.” Rather as displayed by their turning out in huge numbers to view the movie, they have asserted that they cannot be taken for a ride by such diktats. In fact in several parts of the country, Shahrukh’s fans displayed their anger against Shiv Sena’s protests by burning effigies of Shiv Sena leaders.

Clearly, MNIK has provided the movie-fans across the world an opportunity to convey their message. The Mumbai-people defied Shiv Sena’s call, asserting that this party has little significance for him. The noise made by certain Shiv Sena leaders in recent past about their Maratha-identity has also received a big blow by the support displayed by the public here for Shahrukh Khan-starrer. Not surprisingly, Shahrukh’s wife, Gauri who watched the movie at Fun Republic with her daughter, said: “Everyone should watch the movie. Shahrukh’s very happy that everyone has come out supporting him.” Admitting that her husband was “very sad” earlier, but was “happy” at the response received, she said: “I think the best way would be to say Jai Maharashtra. We love Mumbai and Shahrukh is really excited.” Guari is co-producer of the movie, directed by Karan Johar.

Interestingly, the Hindi movie with English title, strikes a note of appeal for Pakistani viewers too. It is the first movie, starring Shahrukh Khan, being screened in Pakistan, since the government allowed Indian movies here two years ago. The crowd’s interest here rests partly on the movie’s title and partly on it having aroused a protest from Shiv Sena over Shahrukh’s comments regarding Pakistani cricketers. Also, they support the movie’s message regarding Muslims being labeled as terrorists and being discriminated against in United States after September 11, 2001 attacks.  The movie does not divide the people. Aiming to bridge the post – 9/11-divide, the movie’s hero wants to meet the US President so that he can tell him: “My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist.”  This particular message, apparently, has people across the world put their regional as well as cultural differences in the background, as it appeals to them emotionally and they understand its underlying meaning. The movie in this context has taken a major step towards bridging the communication gap, which has kept practically the whole world fairly confused and almost at the loser’s end.  The secular, peace-loving and also religious people are against innocents being targeted as suspect terrorists for no fault of theirs. It is time, a Muslim’s religious identity ceased to be linked with terrorism simply because he/she happens to be a practicing Muslim.

With the title saying it loudly and assertively, My Name Is Khan, it is hoped the diplomatic message carried by it is understood by the powers it is addressed to. The raving reviews won by the movie, in addition to raking in millions on the very first day of its screening clearly states that the message has clicked with the people across the world. Bollywood has scored not just against Shiv Sainiks at home but also in taking a lead in successfully conveying the message till date being avoided by Hollywood!

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