Sri Lanka Publishes New Gazette To Ban Individuals with betting connection

Written by N Krishnamurthy


The Sri Lanka Government Friday (August 23) published the new gazette notification which will prevent anyone from holding any position in country’s Sports associations, who is even remotely with betting organisations.

The initiative was taken by Sri Lanka’s Sports Minister Harin Fernando. In one of the most historic decision to clean up Cricket in the Island, Harin Fernando Thursday signed the gazette to introduce regulations to bring Sri Lanka in line with International Cricket Council (ICC) provisions that ban individuals with connections to gambling firms from Sport’s administration.

The changes appear aimed at former SLC President Thilanga Sumathipala, who himself has admitted in parliament that his family is involved in betting and gambling. In this scenario, after new gazette, Sumathipala’s dream to rule the SLC forever is crashed officially.

Sumathipala has always claimed that he has no direct or indirect involvement in his family’s betting and gaming business. However, On 5th March 2019, Cricket Age had exposed the truth of Sumathipala’s family betting business with documents and proofs.

In that exclusive story itself, Cricket Age had published the document of Sri Lanka’s Department of Inland Revenue, that says that the business of ‘Sporting Star’ has registered under betting and gaming and taxes have been paid by the name of U. W. J. P. A. Sumathipala (Jagath Sumathipala, the elder brother of Thilanga).

The ICC Code Of Ethics also stated the same:

“Effective from 10th May 2017, the clause number 2.6.1 of article 2.6 under the heading “Relationship with betting organisations, reads as follow :

“An official may not have a business association (whether direct or indirect) or enter into any business arrangement (whether formal or informal) with any betting organisation that involves the payment of any monies to or by, or the conferring of any benefit(s) or disadvantage(s) upon or by, the official, either directly or indirectly, as a result of such association or arrangement unless such association or arrangement is disclosed to, and recorded and approved by, the ethics officer.”

2.6.2 – it is not permitted, and an official shall be in breach of this code of, any member of the official’s immediate family (being a spouse, parent, sibling, son or daughter, or son or daughter-in-law) has a controlling interest in a betting organisation, a substantial relationship with a betting organisation, or is employed in the day-to-day operational control of a betting organisation.

(Jagath Sumathipala is the elder brother of Thilanga, and as Cricket Age document had proved, he pays taxes for Sporting Star, which is registered under betting and gaming)

With this document, and with the ICC code of ethics, it was quite evident that Sumathipala is not eligible to contest for any post at SLC. Interestingly, Sumathipala himself knows it, that’s why he withdrew from recently concluded SLC election. However, later he entered at SLC from the back door through a laughable post called immediate past President.

However, now Sri Lanka cricket can breathe freely sans Sumathipala. The credit for this courageous step goes to Harin Fernando. Sumathipala had always been unacceptable for ICC, due to his family’s involvement in betting and gambling. However, except for Navin Dissanayake, earlier Sports Minister (particularly Dayasiri Jayasekara, who destroyed Sri Lanka Sports Law in order to safeguard his closest associate Sumathipala) played only in Sumathipala’s hands.

However, Harin Fernando rewrote Sri Lanka Cricket history, by putting a full stop on Sumathipala cricket ambitions!

After this gazette notification, Sumathipala, now, is not even eligible to hold his position at SLC as immediate past President.

The New regulation will be helpful to clean up the Sri Lanka Cricket also. It is noteworthy that 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.

“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 had told on Thursday.

Earlier this year 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.

About the author

N Krishnamurthy