DREAM11, a fantasy sports platform and a sponsor of the Indian Premier League (IPL), has come under scrutiny after the Indian cricket board’s anti-corruption unit (ACU) provided inputs to Mohali police suggesting the platform may have ‘links’ to the fake T20 league they are investigating.
The ACU also asked the investigators to look into the role of FanCode, a streaming website that live broadcast the Uva T20 League shown as being held in Sri Lanka but actually played at a local club ground in Sawara village close to Mohali. Uva is a province in Sri Lanka. FanCode and Dream 11 are part of Dream Sports, a sports tech company.
In a communication to the Mohali Police, assessed by The Indian Express, the ACU said: “There is also chance that Dream11 may be linked. We think the kits used might have been from a previous Dream11 tournament. All of the kits had “Dream11” on the back – there is clearly a chance that these could have been forged, but two sides had tape covering up the Dream11 sign. This is strange: if someone was forging it and didn’t want two sides to have it displayed then arguably, they wouldn’t print in the first place.”
“With the regard to FanCode, we would also question their involvement as it should not be easy to persuade them to stream a tournament like this,” the letter said.
When contacted, Bord of Control for Cricket in India’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) chief Ajit Singh Shekhawat, confirmed that the unit provided pointers to the Mohali Police. “We are not saying they (Dream11) are involved but as FanCode is involved, we need to investigate how the match was given, who bought the proposal to cover it. There could be some document which could be fake as the Sri Lankan board has denied issuing any sanction to that tournament. FanCode can be a guide to the investigation. So, we have asked Police to ask them too,” Singh told The Indian Express.
A FanCode spokesperson said they were an “aggrieved party” and were ready to cooperate with “all investigating agencies working on the matter”. “FanCode follows a strict process for shortlisting and screening potential league partnerships for live streaming of matches. Before streaming any tournament/ league on our platform, we diligently check if the tournament is approved by a recognised sports authority/ association,” the spokesperson said.
In a statement, the streaming website said, “FanCode has filed a formal complaint with the Mumbai Police on July 6th, 2020. We are an aggrieved party in this whole incident of Uva Premier League T20, as it has transpired that the documents submitted by the organisers during our due diligence process were forged/ fabricated. The organisers had provided us with a Letter of Sanction from Uva Province Cricket Association along with an email from the official email id of SLC (Sri Lanka Cricket) that provided confirmation of the tournament.”
“After Day 1 of the tournament, where FanCode streamed two matches, the legal team of SLC reached out to us and informed us that the matches are not approved by them. We immediately stopped streaming these matches on our platform. We are closely working with the Anti-Corruption Unit of SLC and have provided all the documents/ evidence and details available with us, which may be useful for the investigation. We will be more than happy to provide information/ evidence/ documents to any and all investigating agencies working on the matter,” the statement further said.
The letter of the Indian cricket board’s ACU to the Mohali Police comes a day after two of its officials – Alok Kumar and Anshuman Upadhaya – quizzed the alleged match-fixer and prime accused in the case Ravinder Dandiwal. The Mohali resident was earlier in the news when the Australian police named him in a global tennis match-fixing racket.
The other suspicious aspects the ACU asked the police to probe include advertising banners that bore names of Sri Lankan companies and the stumps with ‘UVA T20’ printed on them. It also asked the cops to find out why Indian flags were usually seen at the venue were removed on that game day and why white sheets were used to keep outsiders away from the venue.
The ACU report also questioned the role of venue owners, The Strokers Cricket Association, umpires and players. “The Strokers Cricket Association, we believe… must have been involved to a degree, given that it happened at their ground and the amount of effort that would have gone into preparing the grounds disguise. We further assess that the players, umpires, and commentators were also involved in the cheating,” the letter said.
(With inputs from NIHAL KOSHIE in New Delhi)