Reports have come through today that England fast bowler Stuart Broad has expressed no sympathy for the Pakistani players who are alleged to be involved in the match-fixing scandal. Now, to a certain extent Broad is spot on, the thought of feeling any sympathy for cheating sportsmen is certainly hard to fathom. However, players such as Broad must understand that a certain sense of humility is helpful in such an awful situation.
Broad’s stance is certainly one that is backed by a firm logic. He has stated that players are made more than aware of the dangers of match-fixing, and this is certainly the case. However, all of us who are following this crisis must keep in mind the various factors that have influenced the players who have allegedly made these terrible errors in judgement. There have been comments from a variety of sources regarding the ridiculous pay difference between Pakistani players and the officials running the game in that country, not to mention other players around the world. Another element is also the rumours that players are forced to adhere to the betting agents under threat to themselves and their families. Finally, the age and inexperience of the players must be considered. Mohammed Amir, and to an extent Mohammed Asif and Salman Butt, are all relatively young men, from poor backgrounds, who have been pushed into a situation where the riches of the world are being put at their feet. None of this excuses their actions; it merely suggests that this is not a straightforward issue.
What Stuart Broad’s comments suggest is a lack of understanding of the intricacies of this situation. To simply position the players as undeserving of any sympathy is to ignore the multi-faceted nature of the problem. This is not a case of a couple of ‘bad eggs’, it is a systemic problem that has been brewing for decades, and has not been dealt with in any meaningful way. There should, of course, be a considerable amount of blame dealt out to the accused players, but at the same time we should remember that they are men caught in a much wider situation, and as such they should be treated with at least a small amount of genuine humility.
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