The ICC’s efforts to secure raw footage of the Al Jazeera documentary on spot-fixing have been rebuffed after the Doha-based television network said that an imminent meeting with cricket’s governing body would be “premature”.
Two days ago, the ICC chief executive David Richardson said both parties would sit down in London this week to discuss the ICC getting access to the unedited version of Cricket’s Match Fixers which went on air on Sunday. However, a spokesperson for Al Jazeera’s investigative unit has now said such a meeting should be pushed back to a later date, considering the “potential” investigations that may happen in India and Sri Lanka, where the documentary alleges spot-fixing took place.
Al Jazeera had stated in its documentary that it would “cooperate fully” with the relevant authorities. On that basis, the ICC’s anti-corruption unit got in touch, seeking full and unedited content – which ESPNcricinfo understands to be 15 hours’ long – to conduct its own investigations. Richardson suggested the two parties were likely to meet today to discuss a way forward but the Al Jazeera spokesman said, “with regard to a potential meeting with the ICC, the broadcaster had to take into account ongoing legal considerations, including potential criminal investigations into the spot-fixing allegations in Sri Lanka and India. That being the case, a meeting with the ICC would be premature at this stage”.
Other than allegations that five players – three from England and two from Australia – had agreed to score at a rate specified by fixers for the purposes of betting in two Test matches, the documentary also contended that ICC’s ACU officials were either compromised or could easily be sidestepped by fixers with money and connections. Richardson disagreed but added the ICC would be happy to investigate this matter as well.
“It should also be borne in mind that in certain respects the broadcast puts the ICC itself under the spotlight, although we are confident that this will not ultimately be a bar to cooperation in due course,” Al Jazeera said in its statement, which came soon after one from Richardson, saying it was important for the ICC’s ACU to see the evidence first-hand to “prove or disprove” the allegations presented in the documentary.
“I ask Al Jazeera to release to us all the material they have relating to corruption in cricket,” Richardson said in the statement. “We will conduct a full, thorough and fair investigation and will ensure no stone is left unturned as we examine all allegations of corruption made in the programme. To do so, we need to see all the evidence they state they possess.
“I am encouraged by their public commitment to cooperate and now ask that they do so, in releasing all relevant material. We understand and fully respect the need to protect journalistic sources and our ACU team have worked with other media companies on that basis. However, to prove or disprove these allegations, we need to see the evidence referred to in the programme.”