The 2020 IPL will be “comparatively more secure” from the influence of corruptors since the tournament will be played in a biosecure environment. That is the view of Ajit Singh, the head of BCCI’s anti-corruption unit [ACU], who said even though he was broadly confident about the tournament, he remained “wary” of the challenge posed by social media, a route through which corrupt approaches can be made to “compromise” a player.
With India struggling to cope with Covid-19 pandemic, the BCCI has received the federal government’s approval to stage this year’s IPL in the UAE. The 53-day tournament will be played in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah between September 19 and November 10. Teams will arrive in the UAE from August 20.
“One can’t say whether it is going to be the safest one, but definitely it is going to be better from the anti-corruption point of view because there is going to be no interaction between the teams, support staff and outsiders,” Singh told ESPNcricinfo on Thursday. “This season is going to be comparatively more secure. But, still, it is not (going to be) foolproof thing.”
According to Singh, with all eight teams separated and living inside a biosecure bubble where their movements will not only be digitally monitored but severely restricted, the normal avenues available for corruptors to attempt making in-person contact will become non-existent.
“They throng around the hotel, keep sitting in the hotel hobby, come as sponsors asking players to become brand ambassadors, which is basically a cover [for corrupt activity], so that sort of a thing would be avoided this time,” Singh said.
At the same time, there remains a big challenge for the ACU – an invisible one at that. “Instead of person-to-person communication or direct face-to-face communication, there could be communication through social media,” Singh said. “If somebody approaches me on Facebook and then it starts as an innocent post coming from a fan, ultimately if you find that there is some possibility of being able to compromise the person you might make an attempt. So we have to continue with the [anti-corruption] education.”
Another element, Singh pointed out, the ACU would be “wary about” was the betting industry. “We would be monitoring the betting market, how the betting market is going, does it give suspicious trends. And one has to keep the informers active and then also monitor social media.”
No integrity officer, but each team to have two liaison officers
Singh said that every team would have two security liaison officers [SLOs]. These SLOs are not part of the BCCI’s ACU, but hired by the watchdog. They will be staying at the team hotel and also travel to the venues for training and match day.
The SLOs have replaced the team integrity officers, which became a norm after the 2013 IPL corruption scandal. An integrity officer is normally assigned to each team and acts as the point of contact to report any illegal approaches that cricketers may receive during the course of the tournament. But with the view that the design and protocols of the upcoming edition eliminating physical interactions outside the bubble, Singh said an integrity officer was not required.
“We don’t need integrity officers this year, because there’s no interaction with the public as such, or fans. There’s no movement allowed outside of the bubble.”
Singh also pointed out that the BCCI ACU, which has eight officers along with SLOs, was well-equipped to handle the tournament and did not need the presence of staff from ICC ACU team.
Until the 2018 edition, the ICC’s ACU had been involved from time to time on a contractual basis, and had even stepped in for the part of Shakib Al Hasan investigation that involved his time with Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2018. (ESPNCricinfo)