Cricket, long defined as a civilized and gentlemanly sport, has found itself embroiled in scandal in recent years. Behind the scenes, the game has become a betting ground for criminal enterprises. Al Jazeera Investigations explores these underground activities in Cricket's Match Fixers.
It's an unexpected symbiosis that exists between cricket and the criminal gangs intent on fixing games. Dishonest players profit handsomely as well. Several high profile cricket stars have come forward and admitted to accepting bribes of hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for under-performance. Some are lured with houses, boats or the company of beautiful models. Once these players accept a bribe, they're on the hook and continue to be complicit in the fixes due to fears of career-ending exposure.
The problem has become more widespread in recent years. The filmmakers cover the cricket circuit from Britain to India to South Africa as part of their ambitious 18-month investigation. Using undercover tactics, they meet with the intermediaries who arrange each fix, some of whom are members of Mafia syndicates, drug trafficking operations and global terrorist groups. They are skilled at circumventing the sport's anti-corruption boards, have control over players on every international team, and can fix up to 70% of the games played.
Surveillance cameras capture the illegal negotiation process. We discover how the money is distributed, the earnings for crooked players, and the potential payout for those who place the bets. Clients can put their money on the final result of the game or only a section. Each operative is open and chatty about every aspect of their complex operation, and their revelations are caught on camera in vivid and unmistakable detail. In the film's most dramatic moments, these criminals are confronted for their misdeeds once the film crew concludes their investigative efforts. The International Cricket Council is also implicated in these bribery schemes.
In addition to this undercover footage, the filmmakers also sit down with disgraced players who have allowed their personal greed to compromise the integrity of the game they love.
Al Jazeera's enlightening investigative documentary series consistently produces intensely researched and well executed work. Cricket's Match Fixers is no exception.