For cricket, which is always in the eye of the storm for match-fixing allegations, any sting operation can bite.
An Indian TV channel, which broadcast an expose a few months ago on some domestic players in the Indian Premier League (IPL) agreeing to allegedly rig matches, ran a fresh sting on Monday.
This time, the programme, titled Operation World Cup, pointed an accusatory finger at umpires. The channel focused on six umpires — two from Pakistan, three from Sri Lanka and one from Bangladesh, currently on the ICC international panel (one rung below the elite panel of umpires). They are shown agreeing to spot-fix or provide pitch and team information for money.
Bangladesh’s Nadir Shah, still on the ICC list, is shown making fixing allegations against Pakistan batsman Nasir Jamshed.
The channel said the programme was shot in the run-up to the World Twenty20, which was held from September 18 to October 7. Pakistan's Nadeem Ghauri, who is a former Test umpire like Shah, and Sri Lanka's Sagara Gallage are shown talking to undercover reporters posing as representatives of a sports management company.
The sting shows Gallage, who is a Sri Lankan premier panel umpire, agreeing to 'spot-fix' the Sri Lanka Premier League T20 matches. The channel said he officiated in the India-Pakistan warm-up tie, which India won. But, Gallage was only a reserve umpire with little role in the match.
Pakistan's Anees Siddiqui and Sri Lanka's Gamini Dissanayake and Maurice Winston are under the needle of suspicion for agreeing to 'spot-fix' for money.
None of the umpires officiated in any international matches from July to September during which the channel conducted its operation, but the sting strongly suggests that even umpires may not be immune to the lure of big bucks.
The ICC asked the channel to hand over footage and other evidence to probe the allegations. It pointed out that none of the umpires officiated in the World Twenty20 matches.