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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

UAE cricket outraged after prominent figure is charged with corruption by ICC

Irfan Ansari, a prominent figure in UAE cricket, has been charged with three counts of breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code

Mickey Arthur, the Pakistsan coach, described captain Sarfraz Ahmed as a “true ambassador of the game” for the way he handled an allegedly corrupt approach during a series against Sri Lanka that took place in the UAE last year. Jewel Samad / AFP
Mickey Arthur, the Pakistsan coach, described captain Sarfraz Ahmed as a “true ambassador of the game” for the way he handled an allegedly corrupt approach during a series against Sri Lanka that took place in the UAE last year. Jewel Samad / AFP

Members of the UAE cricket community have reacted with shock and anger after the ICC charged Irfan Ansari with breaching their anti-corruption code.

The sport’s Dubai-based governing body released a statement on Thursday morning saying Ansari had been suspended and charged over three offences.

It is understood to relate to the investigation into an alleged corrupt approach made to Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan captain, during a series in the UAE last year.

Sarfraz reported the approach during Pakistan’s one-day international series against Sri Lanka in October 2017.

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Ansari has had a long association with UAE cricket since he first arrived from Karachi as a player when Sharjah was undergoing a rapid growth as a centre for the game just over 30 years ago.

In recent years, this has included roles as a coach within age-group cricket, as well as to a number of different senior level teams. He has also served as team manager to the national side at times.

However, teams and councils have moved to disassociate themselves from him since he was widely named in media reports related to the incident last October.

A number of senior players in the national team have been coached by Ansari since their formative years in the game, and have privately expressed disbelief that he would be involved in any form of corruption.

“Mr Ansari is party to the code through his position as a person who is affiliated to a team that participates in international matches, and the coach of the One Stop Tourism and Multiplex international teams who participate in domestic matches in the UAE,” the ICC wrote.

“He has been provisionally suspended with immediate effect and has been charged with [...] three offences under the Code.”

The ICC’s statement was met with a furious response by Adil Mirza, the owner of One Stop Tourism.

Mirza was playing for his side, under the alternative guise of Phoenix Medicine, at Sharjah Cricket Stadium in the Bukhatir League, the UAE’s leading A Division competition, on Thursday night.

He said that Ansari had not been employed as a coach of the side for a number of years, and was livid his company had been mentioned in a statement related to corruption.

“I saw this news after a friend sent me the link via WhatsApp,” Mirza said.

"I went through the details and asked a friend of mind to get me the number of ICC so I could talk to them and find out why my company name was included.

“Yes, Irfan Ansari was coaching for my team three years ago. Then his contract was finished. I have known him for 14 years. If he has done something wrong, they should ask him, not speak about my company.

“It is not only a sports team, it is a revenue generation company, and this gives a lot of bad impact towards the company."