With all the cricketing activities around the world coming to a standstill amid the Coronavirus pandemic, it has given enough time to the potential fixers or bookies to approach players using several social media platforms. No competitive match has taken place since a Pakistan Super League game on March 15 as cricketers globally have been in lockdown enforced to contain the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has killed lakhs worldwide. Also Read - Why PM Modi’s Covid Warning Should Be Taken Seriously During Upcoming Festivals
But BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Unit chief Ajit Singh is not worried about any such threat and it does not cause much anxiety to him. Singh believes Indian cricketers are well aware of the modus operandi of fixers and are quick to report anything suspicious. Also Read - Recovered COVID-19 Patients Can Get The Infection Again Once Antibodies Start Depleting: ICMR
The ICC ACU head Alex Marshall, in an interview to ‘The Guardian’, said that prolonged lockdown and players using various social media could lead to corrupt approaches being made and people need to tread carefully. Singh said BCCI ACU is in control. Also Read - Give Concrete Solutions, Not Plain Speeches: Congress Slams PM Modi Over His Address to Nation
“…we have made our players aware of the way people approach you and modus operandi through social media. We have told them ‘look this is how they (potential fixers and bookies) would approach you’,” the veteran IPS officer told PTI in an interaction.
“(They will) try and behave like a fan and then try to meet you through someone who may be your acquaintance,” he added.
“Somehow these elements try and touch base with players. Most of them (India players), whenever it happens, they do report to us that I have got contact.”
Most of the top players, with millions of followers, have been very active online with Q and A sessions on twitter, interactive chats on instagram and Facebook live.
So is the BCCI’s ACU team tracking the online content?
“Whatever can be tracked online, we do that. But obviously the physical verification part of going out and checking locations is out of question in times of a lockdown,” he spoke about practical problems.
“But if something comes to our notice, it automatically goes into our database and once lockdown is over, we will verify those if the need arises.”
Singh said the easiest aspect of tracking social media content is that it doesn’t require too much manpower.
“A few men who know their jobs can do it pretty well,” the former DGP of Rajasthan said.
But Singh said that, in his two-year stint, all current India players have been honest and upright, very aware about their responsibilities.
“We are not adversaries of players. The players and ACU are one team. It’s the people who are trying to corrupt the games, they are the ones we need to track down.”
He said that both tracking social media and physical verification of corrupt approaches has its own set of challenges.
“Those who were trying to corrupt the players with physical presence and those using fake IDs on social media handles, converge at some point,” he said.
“Either it’s the same person with a fake ID who tries to approach the player or uses someone on his behalf. So there is a pattern of convergence. One has to follow both the lines,” he added.
Singh said even former players have approached the ACU when they have found something unusual. “There have been things coming from current players and also retired players. There has been information coming from them. Things that they doubted, which look suspicious.
“Any information is useful. Even if it’s a false alarm, it raises the awareness level of the players as well as the skills of the team investigating it,” the retired top cop said.
(With Agency Inputs)