Sri Lankans with betting interests to be barred from SLC

Sports Minister Harin Fernando says he is introducing regulations to bring the country in line with ICC provisions that ban individuals with connections to gambling firms from being involved in the sport’s administration.

The changes appear aimed at the former president of SLC, Thilanga Sumathipala (left), whose family owns a gambling business.   -  AP

Sri Lankans involved in gambling firms will be barred from Sri Lanka Cricket, the nation’s cricket governing body, as officials bid to eradicate match-fixing scandals that have dogged the sport, the government said on Thursday.

Sri Lankan cricket has been mired in corruption scandals in recent years, including claims of match fixing ahead of an international Test against England last year. Sports Minister Harin Fernando said he was introducing regulations to bring the country in line with International Cricket Council (ICC) provisions that ban individuals with connections to gambling firms from being involved in the sport’s administration.

“From now on, anyone who is involved in betting or has a close relative involved in betting will not be able to hold office,” Fernando told reporters in Colombo.

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The changes appear aimed at the former president of SLC, Thilanga Sumathipala, whose family owns a gambling business.

Sumathipala, a controversial businessman and politician, is an executive committee member of SLC. He has repeatedly denied involvement in the gambling side of the family business.

Riddled with graft

Fernando had said earlier this year that the ICC considered Sri Lanka one of the world’s most corrupt cricketing nations, adding the sport’s local governance was riddled with graft “from top to bottom.”

In November, former Sri Lankan fast bowler Dilhara Lokuhettige was suspended for corruption linked to a limited-over league in 2017. He was the third Sri Lankan player charged for violating the ICC’s anti-corruption code, following charges levelled against former captain and ex-chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya, and former paceman Nuwan Zoysa.

Jayasuriya was found guilty of failing to cooperate with a match-fixing probe and was banned for two years, while Zoysa was suspended over the match-fixing accusations.