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Pakistan sends feds to investigate betting scandal

By the CNN Wire Staff
Pakistani cricketers have had their actions in a recent Test series with England put under scrutiny after claims of match-fixing.
Pakistani cricketers have had their actions in a recent Test series with England put under scrutiny after claims of match-fixing.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Pakistani investigators are due in England Tuesday
  • British police are investigating reports gamblers fixed parts of a Pakistan-England cricket match
  • A British tabloid newspaper paid $233,000 to a man who said he had advance information
  • Pakistani players performed as the alleged fixer said they would

London, England -- Federal investigators are en route from Pakistan to England to probe a betting scandal related to Pakistan's national cricket team, Interior Minister Rehman Malik told CNN.

The Federal Investigation Agency officers are due to arrive in London on Tuesday, two days after alllegations surfaced that gamblers fixed part of a Pakistani match against England last week.

None of the players or team officials have been arrested, but four were questioned by police, Pakistani national team manager Yawar Saeed said Sunday.

Another man was arrested Saturday and released on bail Sunday.

The news has stunned Pakistan, where cricket is "not just a passion, it's a religion," said the op-ed editor of a leading newspaper in Lahore, Pakistan.

"This is tantamount to treason for a cricketing nation like Pakistan," said the journalist, Mehmal Sarfraz, saying: "People here are devastated" by the allegations.

"We may have our differences otherwise in day-to-day life, but cricket brings us together regardless of caste, creed, religion, or class structure," she explained. "If the allegations are proved, the players should be banned from playing this 'gentleman's game' for life."

No allegations are true until they are proved either way
--Pakistan national team manager Yawar Saeed

A British tabloid newspaper reported Sunday that two Pakistani players deliberately bowled "no balls" -- a foul -- during the four-day series.

A "no ball" is when the bowler -- the equivalent of a pitcher in baseball -- steps over the line as he unleashes the ball. The batting team gets a run when that happens.

Video: Khan 'shocked' over cricket scandal
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The British tabloid News of the World posted what it said was a video of an undercover reporter meeting with a man identified as Mazhar Majeed, who tells the reporter exactly which bowlers would bowl "no balls" and when, then lays out 14 thick stacks of bills on a table.

The video of the meeting -- which the newspaper said took place Wednesday, the day before the match between Pakistan and England began -- is intercut with clips from the following two days, where the players perform as Majeed said they would.

The tabloid also says the alleged ringleader pocketed 150,000 British pounds (U.S. $232,800) in the scam.

London's Metropolitan Police said a 35-year-old man was arrested late Saturday on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers and released on bail Sunday.

Police said no date had been set for a hearing or further proceedings, but that the investigation was continuing.

A source familiar with the investigation named the man who was arrrested as Mazhar Majeed.

Can Cricket survive in Pakistan ?

Police questioned Pakistani team manager Saeed, captain Salman Butt, and two other players, Saeed told reporters Sunday.

He did not name the other two players at the news conference, but Britain's Press Association earlier reported that he had said they were bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asaf.

Police refused to confirm to CNN who was being questioned.

The Pakistani players at the center of the scandal are free to leave the country, London's Metropolitan Police said Monday.

Team captain Butt said Pakistan gave 100 percent throughout the match. "We have given our best," Butt said after his team lost to England.

The team manager refused to comment on the report that Pakistani players intentionally committed three fouls during the match.

"No allegations are true until they are proved either way," said Saeed. "So that this point in time they are just allegations. Let's wait until the case is complete."

England beat Pakistan in the four-day match at Lord's cricket ground, which ended Sunday afternoon, after the scandal broke.

Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari ordered an investigation into the scandal, his spokesman said Sunday.

He directed the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board to submit a preliminary report "immediately," Farhatullah Babar said, adding that Zardari asked to be kept informed about any British investigations as well.

Sam Peters, News of the World's cricket correspondent, told CNN that the tabloid did not "drive these events ... These events were going to happen regardless of whether the News of the World was involved."

But, he said, staffers believed the story was in the public interest.

"It's a legitimate story to get to the bottom of something that's been plaguing our sport," he said. "... It's swirled around, and the innuendo's been there."

However, Shakil Shaikh, president of the Islamabad Regional Cricket Association, told CNN that while he is "shocked" at the news, "no proof has been given of the involvement of these players in the match-fixing issue" and he has seen no concrete evidence against the cricketers.

He said if evidence does surface, an investigation will be launched.

It is the second allegation of corruption directed at the Pakistan cricket team this year.

News of the World does not allege that gamblers fixed the results of the England match -- only that specific moments in the match were fixed, a practice known as "spot-fixing" rather than "match-fixing."

Betting on cricket matches is legal in England.

The News of the World report was co-authored by Mazher Mahmood, a controversial figure in British journalism who has used undercover video in the past.

He was responsible for a report in May that revealed Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson offered to sell access to her former husband, Prince Andrew.

CNN's Richard Allen Greene, Phil Black, Caroline Paterson, Bharati Naik, Samson Desta, Les Neuhaus and Andreena Narayan contributed to this report.