Taking note of the “growing menace” of corruption in sports, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will soon set up a specialised unit to handle cases related to sports fraud, fixing and illegal betting.
Making the announcement at the FIFA-Interpol national workshop here on Wednesday, CBI Director Ranjit Sinha highlighted the lack of a legal framework as the main hurdle in probing cases related to sports fraud.
“We, in CBI, have taken due notice of growing menace of corruption in sports in general and challenges in football and other sports in particular… Very soon we shall set up a sports fraud investigation unit in the CBI under special crime branches,” Sinha said in his keynote address. He said this unit will act as the repository of intelligence and data related to corruption in sports.
“It shall coordinate with other law enforcement agencies of the world and act as a nodal agency to coordinate with states’ police forces. It shall be our endeavor to liaise and coordinate with sports federations to build capabilities to tackle match-fixing and corrupt practices,” he said.
When questioned how the unit plans to work when there is no legal framework for probing corruption in sports, CBI officials said a law to tackle corruption in sports is in the final stages of drafting by the sports ministry.
“We will send a proposal to the central government on setting up this unit. Even though there is no law, we can still carry on enquiries like we did in 2002 in cricket match-fixing till the law proposed by the sports ministry comes into being. The purpose is to be prepared when the law is there,” said a senior official.
Sinha said match-fixing and other forms of sports frauds are so far concentrated in the field of cricket. “It is now known to all the enforcement agencies that betting networks operate very smoothly and efficiently in the country. Their tentacles spread even to small towns,” he said.
He said advancement in communication technology is facilitating the growth of betting syndicates. “From the law enforcement perspective, it will be a mistake to conclude that corruption in sports in India is limited to cricket alone. The organised betting racket has to just change their focus to football and the entire football world will have a formidable adversary to deal with,” he said.
Some persons recently arrested in Singapore on betting charges are of Indian origin and it would not take long for these groups to shift their operations in India, he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Subrata Dutta, senior vice-president, All India Football Federation (AIFF), announced that in the coming executive committee meeting, he would propose setting up of an anti-corruption unit in the football house to work in tandem with Interpol and CBI.
Highlighting the instances of match-fixing, Sinha said that corruption in sports is financed and managed to a very large extent by the betting industry, both legal and illegal, with close links with worldwide crime syndicates.
The two-day workshop is a part of the ‘FIFA-Interpol Initiative’ which was established to develop and implement a global training, education and prevention programme with focus on illegal betting and match-fixing, the CBI spokesperson said in a statement. The CBI and AIFF have also associated with this Initiative, the statement said.