In the 1987 cult-classic Wall Street, Gordon Gekko famously said, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good,”. That may seem impressive when uttered by a stockbroker in court but when greed seeps into sport, it more often than not corrupts. While there is no shame in sportsmen being attracted to the riches that follow success, the problem begins when players start prioritising success off the pitch to success on it.
In chasing the riches, sportsmen throw away their potential down the drain. This often manifests itself in players making choices solely based upon the growth of their bank account than their careers. In cricket, more and more players have been opting to play domestic T20 leagues across the world rather than represent their team in Test cricket; oft considered the pinnacle of the sport. In football, players have decided to play in the footballing wilderness of China and the US than at giant clubs such as Juventus and Chelsea.
Then there is the even more sinister aspect — fixing games and agreeing to take the fall, either in the entire game or in certain points of the game. Pakistan lost three of its finest players back in 2010 to a spot-fixing scandal. Seven years later, the same monster has reared its ugly head once again. Islamabad United duo Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif have both been accused of spot-fixing and the PCB has provisionally suspended them, saying that they have conclusive evidence against them.
In the meanwhile, former Pakistan batsman Nasir Jamshed was arrested by UK’s National Crime Agency and has also been suspended by the PCB. He is thought to be the person who got the players in contact with the bookie. Amidst this storm that has once against tarnished the name of Pakistan’s cricket, the PCB and franchise Islamabad United have acted in a transparent and swift manner. The PCB chairman has said the players will be made an example of, and Islamabad have promised full support from their end. The board cannot end greed, nor should it be expected to do so, but the players must be dealt with in the harshest possible manner so that fixing in the sport ends here.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2017.
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