The International Cricket Council has banned three Pakistan national team players for at least five years each after finding them guilty of corruption for their alleged roles in a match fixing scam last year during a test match in London.
Pakistan former test captain Salman Butt, and opening bowlers Mohammad Asif and 18-year-old Mohammad Amir learned their fate Saturday, one day after authorities in Britain filed criminal conspiracy and bribery charges against the trio.
The Pakistani players have the right to appeal the ICC’s ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The ICC corruption unit tribunal in Doha, Qatar banned 26-year-old Butt for 10 years, with five years suspended. The 28-year-old Asif received a seven-year ban, with two years suspended, and Amir was banned for a total of five, with no time suspended. Butt and Asif must participate in an anti-corruption program through the Pakistan Cricket Board in exchange for the suspended portions of their bans. The ICC could have imposed life-time bans against all three men.
Cricket’s world authority suspended Butt, Asif and Amir early last September as it began an internal probe into allegations of their involvement in a cheating scandal. The tribunal imposed the sanctions after examining evidence gathered in the investigation.
The three professional athletes deny any wrongdoing. Each could face up to nine years in prison and a large fine if found guilty on all charges.
Separately, prosecutors in Britain said Friday that Butt, Asif and Amir are facing charges of conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, and with conspiracy to cheat. Their first court hearing is scheduled for March 17 in London.
The cricket stars allegedly agreed to accept more than $240,000 in bribes to deliberately bowl penalties called “no-balls” at prearranged points during the fourth test against England last August at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. Anyone with prior knowledge about that type of a so-called “spot fixing” plan could win huge profits from betting on those specific elements of the match.
The London-based sports agent who represents the trio, Mazhar Majeed, also is charged in the case, and ordered to appear at the same March 17 hearing in London. He is accused of arranging bribes and accepting the money from a third party.
Last September, Salman, Asif and Amir spoke with the London Metropolitan Police, and said they would voluntarily return to Britain at the request of authorities. On Friday, prosecutors said Britain will seek to extradite the men if they fail to appear in court next month.
In Britain, obtaining and accepting corrupt payments carries a seven-year prison sentence and an unlimited fine. The maximum punishment for cheating conspiracy is two years behind bars.