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Cricket Betting Scandal Blights English Game

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Westfield will have time to reflect in HMPThe tip of the iceberg or a one off?

The one thing that humanity can unite in is man’s struggle to overcome his fellow opponent in sport.

Sport is the great uniter. From the terraces where fans gather in tribal support for their team to the legions of supporters who line routes to see their favourite cyclist suffer, sport is something that transcends boundaries and heals great rifts.

 

On ESPN they often rerun great classic sporting events and watching Frasier V Muhammad Ali in 1971 is one of those. It was a match that Ali showboated one too many times and got caught with a peach of a right hook in the fifteenth.

But prior to that in the tenth there was a period where both boxers were putting on an exhibition. Or so it seemed. The crowd started jeering. They had come to see a fight. Not this seemingly pretend stuff.

I’m not going to suggest for a second that there was any impropriety involved here.

Ali had the fight won and he ran out of gas. Each fighter was paid a million pounds for their part in the contest and hundreds of millions was staked on the outcome.

The scary thing about the recent cricket match fixing allegations and subsequent proof that it happened mean that you look at past events in a different light and it sets you wondering.

Earlier this season in the champions league Lyon needed to beat Dinamo Zigreb by a cricket score and hope Real Madrid won their last game to progress to the last sixteen.

Real Madrid won and Lyon improbably won 7-1.

Improbably? The score raised some eyebrows but at the time Zigreb were rooted to the bottom of group D with no wins and only three goals scored conceding 22.

So maybe not so improbable after all.

There would never be any suggestion of Muhammad Ali throwing a fight. And if Lance Armstrong was ever found guilty of doping it would break my heart.

But sportsmen and women do cheat and it has to be stopped at all costs.

Mervyn Westfield was at the bottom of the betting food chain. Paid only £10,000 per year and struggling to get into the first team he was easily led into throwing a few no balls for a quick six grand.

The question is how rife is spot fixing?

The MCC have moved quickly to try and stop their sports name being dragged through the gutter and have announced an amnesty for all players. No sanctions for any player who comes forward with information.

A move which is to be applauded to the rafters and shows the ineffective FA how to quickly deal with inflammatory situations like this.

I don’t believe that crooked cricket betting is rife. The pressure from your fellow participants is just too great to make it so. Sport has such a glare of media spotlight thrown on it that rats are quickly ousted.

There will always be those trying to corrupt sportsmen and women into making bad decisions but the nature of sport means that trying to be your best does not include bowling wides on purpose or letting in own goals.

Westfield will probably face prison when he is sentenced in February and that’s sad for a young man with talent.

At least he hasn’t sunk so low as to drunkenly offer “access” to his other half for a quick half a million.

If you are going to do something silly at least do it for a good amount.

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