Pakistan’s disgraced former cricket captain Salman Butt returned home to a chaotic welcome yesterday after being released early from a British prison, vowing to clear his name after being jailed for spot-fixing.
The 27-year-old was imprisoned for 30 months in November on charges of accepting corrupt payments during the Lord’s Test against England in August 2010.
Butt, teammates Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, and British agent Mazhar Majeed were accused of arranging deliberate no-balls in return for money.
Amir was released in February after serving half his six-month sentence, while Asif, jailed for 12 months, was freed in May.
About 200 fans including Butt’s father, Zulfiqar, gathered at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International airport as Butt — wearing a green shirt and jeans — made his way through the airport after being cleared by Pakistan’s immigration authorities.
Fans carried banners and chanted slogans in support of Butt.
An angry Butt shouted for space before leaving the arrivals hall, but he returned 10 minutes later to talk to the media, vowing to clear his name from the spot-fixing charges that derailed his career.
“I am happy and relieved,” Butt said. “I want two to three days with my family and once I do that, I will hold a detailed press conference to answer all questions to clear my name from spot-fixing.”
Butt said he hoped his difficult days were behind him.
“I am thankful to all those who helped me in my difficult times and I hope that my tough days are over. I am desperate to see my second son, who I have not seen since his birth,” Butt said of his son, born on Nov. 3 last year, the day he was sentenced.
The three Pakistan players were banned for at least five years by the International Cricket Council (ICC), which has ordered the Pakistan Cricket Board to rehabilitate the former stars.
The cricketers have a right to appeal the ICC ban in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.
Butt denied he had any links to spot-fixing.
“I have no links with spot-fixing and my only mistake was that I did not make a complaint against those who made offers. I am consulting my legal advisers and will decide on when to appeal against the ICC ban,” Butt said.
“My biggest mistake was not to report the advances made to me by my British agent, but he was a friend as well and I hoped he would realize his mistake,” Butt added.
“I hoped he [Majeed] would back off in the two-to-three-month period when he made the offers. That was my mistake and I should have told the authorities immediately, but I have paid a big price for it and served time behind bars. I also apologize to the people of Pakistan, all the cricketers, those who support us and make us stars, I apologize — but for failure to report,” added Butt, who also said he had apologized to the ICC.
“I have never accepted any offer and nothing ever practically happened in a match linked to any offer to do spot-fixing, and I also never asked anyone else to do this,” Butt said.
“I want to return as a better and good person, a good cricketer and a good Pakistani,” he added.