World Cup 2011 fixing allegation: Sangakkara spent nine hours recoding his statement
2011 World Cup skipper and cricketing legend, Kumar Sangakkara, recorded a statement at the Police Special Investigation Unit for Prevention of Offences Relating to Sports Act yesterday regarding the ongoing investigation into former Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage’s allegation the 2011 World Cup final was fixed.
Police also recorded a statement from World Cup opener Upul Tharanga for more than 2 hours on Wednesday, while Aravinda de Silva spent more than six hours on Tuesday. Former skipper Mahela Jayawardene, who scored an unbeaten century in the final, has now been summoned to appear before the SIU today at 9.00 a.m.
Former Sports Minister Aluthgamage made this allegation on 18 June during an interview with Sirasa TV. He claimed he had evidence to back his allegation and confirmed that he takes full responsibility for making this claim. The allegation created an uproar among cricketers and politicians alike.
“I came here due to the respect and our duty towards cricket. I believe after this investigation truth will come out regarding Mahindananda Aluthgamage’s statement,” said Kumar Sangakkara, who arrived at SIU at 9.00 a.m. and came out only at 6.30 p.m.
2011 World Cup team members Sangakkara, former skipper Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera and Lasith Malinga immediately voiced their concerns regarding the claim and urged the Minister to come forward with evidence without making ‘baseless allegations’.
Aluthgamage then stated that he was talking about officials and not the players. This also added fuel to the fire where Jayawardene questioned how anyone else other than the playing XI could fix a match, while de Silva who was furious over this allegation, urged BCCI and ICC to investigate the matter.
But then the Minister changed his stance and stated that he only suspected the match had been fixed and asked the Special Investigation Unit to look into a few key areas during and leading up to the match on 24 June, when Police recorded a statement from him at his office in Nawalapitiya.
He repeatedly claimed that the Sports Ministry did not accept the final changes to the team, but later official documents revealed the Sports Ministry had accepted the last-minute changes to include Suraj Randiv and Chaminda Vaas to the final squad.
According to the Sports Law once the Ministry approves the squad, decision regarding the playing XI is taken by the selectors in consultation with the captain, manager and coach.
Also as per Section 13 of the Prevention of Offences Relating to Sports Act, the offence of making a false allegation carries a fine and imprisonment.
It states: “Any person who makes any false allegation in any information disclosed by such person under section 16 of this Act knowing the content of such allegation to be false or having reasons to believe that such allegation is not true, commits an offence under this Act and shall, on conviction by a Magistrate, be liable to a fine not exceeding rupees one hundred thousand or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years or to both fine and imprisonment.”
Secretary, Sports Ministry K.D.S. Ruwan Chandra handed over a written complaint to the SIU to conduct an immediate inquiry into Aluthgamage’s claim, though Sports Minister Dullas Alahapperuma said in his personal opinion he doesn’t think that Aluthgamage’s claim has any merit.
Protest to support Sangakkara
Meanwhile, the youth wing of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya staged a protest in front of Sri Lanka Cricket headquarters against the ‘continuous harassment of Kumar Sangakkara and other cricketers over unsubstantiated match-fixing allegations.’
The investigation has created an uproar among the public and on social media, with many prominent figures ridiculing Aluthgamage and the way cricketers are being treated, especially with Police SIU visiting Nawalapitiya to record a statement from Aluthgamage while summoning World Cup heroes one after another to Police headquarters.
“The questioning of cricketers at the FCID started during the Yahapalanaya government when #SriLanka Test & ODI captain Angelo Mathews was questioned in 2016. I disagreed w/it then & disagree w/it now. There are relevant authorities set up to address these kinds of issues,” tweeted former parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa.