Pakistan cricket team in match fixing scandal

LONDON—Police have questioned members of the Pakistan cricket team over newspaper allegations of match fixing during the current test against England at Lord’s.

“I can confirm that we are aware of the allegations and Scotland Yard police are with us now at the hotel and we are helping with their inquiries,” Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed told The Associated Press. “This is as much as I can say at the moment.”

British newspaper the News of the World alleged in its Sunday edition that Pakistan players were secretly paid to deliberately bowl no-balls during the fourth and final test against England as part of a betting scam.

The newspaper says it secretly filmed video footage of its undercover reporters, posing as front men for a Far East gambling cartel, in discussion with a man it identifies as London-based businessman Mazhar Majeed, who appears to accept 150,000 British pounds (US$232,000) in order to make sure no-balls are bowled at certain times during the match.

The News of the World says it has passed all its evidence to the police.

Scotland Yard police said in a statement: “Following information received from the News of the World, we have today arrested a 35-year-old man on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers.”

The man was later confirmed to be Mazhar Majeed by his brother and business partner Azhar Majeed.

Pakistan needs to win the final test against England at Lord’s to salvage a draw in the four-match series, but it faces an uphill task after scoring just 74 in reply to England’s first-innings total of 446.

The News of the World quoted Majeed as saying up to seven players in the Pakistan team could be “bought” for cash.

“I’ve been doing it (match fixing) with them for about 2 1/2 years and we’ve made masses of money,” Majeed said.

Video of the meeting between the News of the World undercover reporter and Majeed appears to shows the businessman accepting the money and insisting that the three no-balls “have been organized” with the Pakistan team.

The International Cricket Council said it was aware of the situation and it, along with the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Pakistan Cricket Board, was “fully assisting” police with their inquiries.

“No players nor team officials have been arrested in relation to this incident and the 4th npower Test match will continue as scheduled on Sunday,” said an ICC statement. “As this is now subject to a police investigation neither ICC, ECB, PCB nor the ground authority, the MCC, will make any further comment.”

Azhar Majeed told the AP he believed the allegations against his brother are “just rubbish.”

“I found it not laughable, because you don’t laugh at things like that, but I thought it was just rubbish,” Azhar Majeed said. “I saw the video of Mazhar sitting there counting out money on the table. They are alleging it was for match fixing … I have absolutely no idea about it whatsoever.”

Azhar Majeed, who says he and his brother are player agents, admitted he had been asked to leave Pakistan’s team hotel during the third test at the Oval, after the team’s security manager told him he was top of the list of people banned from entering players’ rooms.

“Security kept on hassling me, and I couldn’t understand what it was for, the reason I was top of the list,” Azhar Majeed said. “I couldn’t understand why. I found it a bit ludicrous for him to be chucking me out of hotel. Politely I went, but I have absolutely nothing to hide.”

Any player found guilty of involvement in match fixing faces a life ban from the sport.

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