New scandal for South Korean sport
Professional baseball in South Korea is being investigated after allegations of spot-fixing, following cricket scandals.
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2012 16:49
South Korean baseball is the setting for the latest spot-fixing tale [GALLO/GETTY]

Prosecutors in South Korean have gathered testimony regarding allegations of spot-fixing in professional baseball, local media reported on Monday.

Investigations have widened by prosecutors into allegations of match-fixing in baseball against the backdrop of a government crackdown on corruption in sport. A former college baseball player with the surname Kim, arrested last weekend over alleged ties to fixing, testified that the problem was more widespread than first suspected.

Senior prosecutor Park Eun-seok told Yonhap news agency: "Our basic policy is (to) stay focused on the allegations we have now. But if we obtain concrete evidence that point to additional fixing, we can broaden our investigation."

Kim was arrested on suspicion of introducing two active players in the Korea Baseball Organisation (KBO), the nation's top baseball league, to a gambling broker. Law officials had initially thought the betting ring had attempted to sway the outcome of five to six KBO games. A broker linked with Kim is also under arrest. Illegal sports betting sites offer spot bets, offering odds on single plays.

A match-fixing scandal that tore through soccer's K-League last year, triggered a government threat to shut down the league altogether unless it cleaned up its act. Meanwhile, similar allegations surfaced in South Korea's professional volleyball league earlier this month, forcing the government to declare a war on match-fixing.

Global problem

Spot-fixing made headlines around the world in 2011 when three Pakistani cricket players were prosecuted and jailed for their part in spot-fixing, during a Test match against England. Since then, the ICC's Anti Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) have stepped up investigations to clamp down on illegal activities taking place during matches.

Despite the sentencing and subsequent bans of the three high-profile players, difficulty in detecting spot-fixing means that the lure of an easy bet for individuals, will always remain.

    Bangladesh ex-captain Mashrafe Mortaza propositioned by unnamed player to spot-fix [GALLO/GETTY]

In September, English County cricketer Mervyn Westfield was the latest player to be formally charged with conspiracy to defraud in a betting scam, while police in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka have arrested a Pakistani man on suspicion  of spot-fixing during a key match in the inaugural Twenty20 cricket league, officials said on Monday.

Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) officials challenged Sajid Khan on Sunday as he was frantically making phone calls from the stands during the crucial phases of a Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) encounter, the BCB security chief told AFP.

"We have handed him over to police for interrogation," Mesbahuddin Serniabat said, adding an anti-corruption official from the International Cricket Council had also spoken to the man.

"We have reasons to suspect that he was involved in spot-fixing. On Sunday, Khan called after the toss and every time a key wicket fell and a six was hit. He also tried to sneak into the dressing room and some restricted areas where only players and team staff are allowed," he said.

Serniabat said Khan, 36, was detained during the Chittagong Kings versus Barisal Burners match, which the latter won to seal a place in the semi-finals.

The BPL, Bangladesh’s first Twenty20 league, opened on February 9 on a sour note after former captain Mashrafe Mortaza revealed that he had received a spot-fixing proposition. Mortaza said he had been approached by an unnamed player regarding potential spot-fixing of the Dhaka Gladiators, which he captains.

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