For last one week, several sports websites in India were promoting UVA Premier League T20, a T20 cricket tournament which was scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka from June. But after Sri Lanka denied knowledge of any such league in their country, now it has been revealed that the entire tournament was fake as the matches were taking place in India, not Sri Lanka, and no known cricketer participated in it.
According to sports websites promoting the tournament, the four teams, Monaragala Hornets, Unilions Mahiyanganaya, Badulla Sea Eagles and Wellawaya Vipers were participating in the UVA Premier League. Cricketers from Sri Lanka, including players from the national team, were listed as participating in the tournament. Some of the names listed as part of the tournament were Farveez Maharoof, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Thilan Thushara, Dasun Shanaka and Ajantha Mendis. But as soon as the names of cricketers were published by sites such as fancode, sportskeeda and crickettimes, it started becoming clear that there was something wrong.
On 28th June, Sri Lankan cricketer Farveez Maharoof replied to a tweet by sportskeeda journalist Prasen Moudgal about the tournament, and said that the news is fake, and no one has spoked to him regarding this and he is not interested in playing the tournament.
This is fake no one has spoken to me or neither I’m interested to speak or to play the tournament. Please don’t give any publicity— Farveez Maharoof (@farveezmaharoof) June 28, 2020
Despite this denial, two matches of the tournament was played on 29th June, and they were broadcast live on YouTube. The cricket websites like sportskeeda ran live scorecards of the games too, therefore, it was assumed that although the websites got the names of some players wrong, the tournament was indeed happening in Sri lanka.
But on June 30 it was reported that the tournament has been cancelled after the initial two matches on 29 June. It was claimed that it was cancelled after Sri Lanka Cricket revoked the authorization given to the tournament. The report by sports sites claimed that the SLC had earlier approved the league and hence it was a surprising decision.
But this claim turned out to be false, as on Wednesday, Sri Lanka Cricket denied any knowledge about the cricket tournament supposedly taking place in their country, which they described as a fantasy tournament. The national cricket board announced that “neither SLC nor its affiliates have any knowledge or any involvement with a fantasy tournament staged by an undisclosed party under the name and title of Uva Premier League T20.” The statement noted that “several Indian websites have even advertised a scoreboard on June 29 stating that the Uva Premier League T20 is being played at the Badulla Stadium, but SLC wishes to confirm that no such tournament was taking place and or will be held in Sri Lanka.” CEO of SLC, Ashley De Silva said that he had directed the Anti-corruption officer of SLC to look into the matter.
And now it has emerged that the entire tournament was fake, as the matches that were shown on web streams were actually played near Chandigarh in India, and not in Sri Lanka. According to a report by Indian Express, the matches were played at a ground in Sawara village, around 16km from Chandigarh. The report states there were no Sri Lankan players, and unknown players participated in the two matches wearing masks.
According to the report, the match which was supposed to be played at Badulla in Sri Lanka was covered live by FanCode, owned by Dream Sports. This company runs a fantasy sports platform named Dream 11, which is a sponsor of the Indian Premier League.
After the news of the fake tournament broke, BCCI said that police must investigate the organisers of the so-called UVA Premier League T20. BCCI said that as no BCCI registered player was involved in it, and if the fake tournament was held for betting, the matter must be probed by the police.
The ground where the matches took place is owned by Strokers Cricket Association in Sawara village. An official of the association said that one of his friends had taken the booking for the ground, and they were not aware who were organizing the tournament. He said that even the association officials were not allowed to enter the ground, and on the next day, police came and stopped the tournament.
Yesterday night, two people associated with the tournament were arrested on charges related to cheating and gambling, Raju and Pankaj. Police said that they stopped after the tournament after learning that it was being held in the name of Sri Lanka.
Now it has been suspected that the fake tournament was organized for betting purposes, and the betting mafia is behind it. It has been suspected that the tournament was conducted by bookies from India and other countries.