Sri Lanka has become the first South Asian country to criminalise match fixing, with a bill setting out severe penalties including fines of up to LKR100m (£431,836/€502,536/$554,078) and ten-year prison terms.
The bill passed its third reading in the Sri Lankan parliament yesterday (November 11) and now must be published in the country’s Official Gazette to come into force.
The Prevention of Offences relating to Sports bill makes it illegal for any person connected to a sport to manipulate an event for financial gain. This covers athletes and officials, and goes as far as including venue and support staff who “prepare any turf, ground or playing surface of any sport or sporting event in a way agreeable to any person including a betting operator”.
Retired players will also face fines and prison terms should they use their influence to help fixers, by introducing them to current players, officials or support staff.
A Special Investigations Unit will be appointed by the government to oversee investigations into sporting corruption in Sri Lanka, including prosecuting cases related to match-fixing. The unit will be comprised of police officers of the rank of assistant superintendent or above, who will serve three-year terms.
The bill also criminalises not reporting attempts or instances of match fixing to this special unit. Those that fail to provide any information on match fixing, or wilfully obstruct its investigations, face a LKR200,000 penalty and a prison term of three years.
The unauthorised disclosure of confidential information now carries a LKR500,000 fine and three-year prison term, while making false allegations of corruption will be punished with a LKR100,000 penalty and three years behind bars.
Sri Lanka’s most popular sport, cricket, has been dogged by allegations of corruption for years, to the point that Sports Minister Harin Fernando claimed the governing body was rotten “from top to bottom”.
Last year Qatari state broadcaster Al Jazeera published a report suggesting that the pitch at the Sri Lankan cricket team’s Galle International Stadium had been altered to benefit the home team, for betting purposes.