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Asif mulls political asylum

Pacer Mohammad Asif, one of the Pakistani cricketing trio alleged to be involved in a betting scandal, has reportedly made inquiries about seeking political asylum in Britain in order to escape the anger of cricket fans and betting gangs back home. Dipankar De Sarkar reports.

cricket Updated: Sep 10, 2010 00:53 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar

Pacer Mohammad Asif, one of the Pakistani cricketing trio alleged to be involved in a betting scandal, has reportedly made inquiries about seeking political asylum in Britain in order to escape the anger of cricket fans and betting gangs back home.

Asif's move follows growing protests in Pakistan and comes amid suggestions that the British government will press India and other Commonwealth partners in order to legalise betting to scotch the persistent problem of match-fixing and spot-betting.

Asif reportedly told immigration lawyers in a meeting last week that the allegations could make him the target of dangerous criminal gangs linked to the illegal betting underworld.

An immigration lawyer, who met the fast bowler at a restaurant in Southall on Friday, told the Daily Telegraph, "He didn't say anything about asylum at first. He just said, 'what's the way to stay?' Then we told him there's the student way — you can come here to study — or you can apply for a work permit. But then he asked about asylum."

Meanwhile, the wider crisis over illegal betting threatened to drag in India after Britain's Sports Minister Hugh Robertson wrote to Indian counterpart MS Gill, making the case for legalising betting in India.

Robertson argued that legalisation would make it easier to regulate gambling, which in turn could help rid sports of the problem of match-fixing and spot-betting. In Britain, gambling is a legal and popular pastime (even the Queen bets on horses) but it is strictly regulated.