Former Sri Lankan spin bowler Sachithra Senanayake was arrested by Sri Lankan police on Wednesday for match-fixing, making him the first player to be prosecuted under a 2019 law that makes match-fixing a criminal offence.
Senanayake, 38, was taken into custody by a police unit investigating sports-related crimes. Formal charges have not been filed yet, but the police say the arrest is in connection with an incident from the 2020 Lanka Premier League (LPL).
A court impounded Senanayake’s passport last month during a police investigation into the allegations. Senanayake is accused of influencing two LPL players to fix matches in 2020.
If convicted, Senanayake could face a maximum of 10 years in jail, a fine of up to 100 million rupees ($309,000) or both.
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The arrest comes as Sri Lanka has been trying to crack down on match-fixing. The country’s former sports minister, Harin Fernando, introduced the tough new law after saying the International Cricket Council (ICC) considered Sri Lanka one of the most corrupt cricket nations.
Another former sports minister, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, told parliament in 2021 that match-fixing was rife in the country.
Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup-winning skipper Arjuna Ranatunga in 2012 urged fans to boycott matches in protest against what he called “mismanagement, corruption and indiscipline” in the national team.
The arrest of Senanayake is a major development in Sri Lanka’s efforts to combat match-fixing. It remains to be seen whether it will be enough to deter other players from engaging in corrupt practices.