MUMBAI: Rashid Latif, the former Pakistan captain who blew the whistle on cricket corruption eight years ago, fears that the current World Cup format encourages fixing.
Latif said that the 14-team line-up at the Feb 19-April 2 event in the subcontinent in which six teams have little of no chance of winning, opens the door to corruption on the back of bribes from illegal subcontinental bookmakers.
“It is obvious that the real competition will only start from the quarter-final stage,” he told the Press Trust of India (PTI) in an interview released on Sunday.
“This means it encourages bookmakers to try to corrupt players to indulge in white collar spot-fixing crime in the group matches,” Latif said.
Latif, 42, wrote a letter to the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2003 citing his concerns about the sport.
Earlier this month, three of his compatriots, former skipper Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, were found guilty of deliberately organising no-balls (spot fixing) against England last August.
The ICC banned them for a minimum five years but the trio have denied wrongdoing and sport's highest court of appeal, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will hear the case.
“The formation is such that even if a top team loses a match or two this really will not stop it from qualifying for the quarter-finals,” he said in the PTI interview.
“Take for example Group A. How can the ICC expect teams like Kenya or Canada to cause any upset and it is obvious Zimbabwe is weaker compared to Pakistan, Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand?
“My fear is this format and formation only encourages spot-fixing and it is difficult for anyone to identify such things.”
Latif said that the event should be restricted in the future to the leading eight test teams.
ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat has already said that from 2015 in Australia and New Zealand, the event will be reduced from 14 to 10 teams with the associate members (non-test playing teams) concentrating on the Twenty20 World Cup.
This decision was taken on the grounds of developing these countries in a more constructive way rather than reasons of avoiding temptations for corruption at the 50-over World Cup.