London, Sep 6 (IANS): In a new twist to the spot-fixing saga, Pakistan’s Test opener Yasir Hameed has accused The News Of The World - the British tabloid that has made corruption allegations against three Pakistan players - of blackmail.
"The incident which was largely inaccurately reported in the News of the World today (Sunday) was when I was having dinner with a friend at the Holiday Inn (in) Nottingham on the evening of Aug 30, 2010. I was then approached by a man who introduced himself as Abid Khan and offered that he would arrange a sponsorship deal for me with Etihad Airways. I have now seen a photograph of the so-called Abid Khan and have discovered that he is Mazhar Mahmood," Yasir said in a statement issued Sunday night.
He was referring to a NOTW report that says Yasir has confirmed that some of his team-mates were involved in match-fixing. The NOTW expose was done by Mazhar Mahmood, the tabloid's investigative reporter. His sensational report last week hurled allegations of corruption at three Pakistan team players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir.
Yasir reportedly told The News of the World, that is owned by international media magnate Rupert Murdoch and is the Sunday sister paper of the popular The Sun tabloid, that his teammates have been fixing "almost every match" and that he himself had refused bribes but later denied giving any interview to the tabloid.
"Naturally I was interested in what he had to say and we began a conversation. He offered me at least 50,000 pounds for the deal...," added Yasir, who was shown in a video recording by NOTW Sunday, saying that his team-mates were involved in match-fixing.
"Then Abid Khan started asking about the current match fixing allegations and as I saw him as a friend and a potential agent I naively started to answer his questions. He asked me about the match fixing allegations against the current three Pakistani players and if I had any further knowledge.
"As far as I can recall I only told him whatever I had already read in the newspapers about this matter. It seems that Abid had a hidden camera which I was totally unaware of," Yasir said.
"I then left the hotel with my friend and came back to where I was staying. Two days later Abid then called me and offered me 25,000 pounds to give a statement against the three current players under investigation, which I immediately refused and put the phone down.
"I neither called nor answered any calls from Abid after this conversation. When News of the World released my conversation, which Abid Khan recorded without me knowing about it, I was contacted by the media in Pakistan to confirm if I gave the statement to the NOTW, I denied categorically as explained above that this was not the case," Yasir said.
"Subsequently, I received a text message from Abid Khan from his number 07860109876, which I found to be intimidating as reflected in his message reproduced below: 'Pls call me. Incidentally you are in video drinking wine and saying all the quotes attributed to you. Denying it is just stupid as we will be releasing the video to TV. Better that you stand up and speak the truth!!!!' However, I decided not to respond or react," Yasir said in his statement.
He added that he had brought the matter to the attention of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).