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Pakistan Cricketers to Meet Officials Amid Match-Fixing Scam

Three Pakistani cricket players alledgedly involved in a betting scam have left the team's training ground in southwest England for London, where they will meet with top Pakistani cricket and government officials.

Team captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif are expected to be interviewed about charges of match-fixing first reported in the British newspaper News of the World. On Sunday, the tabloid reported an agent for several Pakistan cricket players, Mazhar Majeed, took more than $200,000 to pre-arrange no-balls, which are illegal throws, during a test match last week in London.

Three people, all from London, have already been arrested by British customs officials on suspicion of money-laundering and are now free on bail.

The Pakistan Cricket Board has said the three Pakistani players will not be suspended until the allegations are fully investigated. But the London meeting means they will not be able to play in a scheduled match Thursday.

Angus Porter, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers Association in Britain, thinks the players will also be excluded from other upcoming games.

"I think it is sensible that the players who have charges to answer, whether they are guilty or not, are if possible taken out of the games at the weekend in order that those matches will be cricket matches, rather than a spectacle that focuses on some individuals," said Porter.

The cricket world has been shaken by the scandal, he said. But Porter added that corruption is not unknown in the sport, which he said is designed in a way that makes betting on specific incidents common. In most countries, the betting is well regulated, but not in all countries said Porter.

"Cricket attracts a huge following in the Indian subcontinent and there is a massive, unregulated, illegal betting market in those countries," he said. "Therefore, I think there is lots of opportunity for people to make money with spot fixing. But how widespread a problem it is we simply do not know," said Porter.

During a press conference earlier this week, Pakistan's Team Manager Yawar Saeed said the Pakistan team will continue its England tour despite the allegations.

"All allegations, whether they are big or small, to us are serious," he said. "But I am not in a position to say what the final outcome is, but I think we should now, I would request, wait until the investigation is over."

The International Cricketing Council has said it thinks the players should not play on the tour while the allegations are under investigation and is preparing a report on the case. The Pakistani team, meanwhile, is preparing to play several matches in England this month.