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After Australia won the Cricket World Cup in November, a photo began circulating online that shows a fake letter from the sport’s governing body dedicating the victory to former Pakistan prime minister and retired player Imran Khan. It appears to invite Khan to a medal presentation ceremony as the “chief guest”. Cricket Australia told AFP it did not dedicate the win to Khan or extend any such invitation. The hoax letter also contains multiple typographical errors.
The screenshot of the bogus document has been shared more than 9,600 times since it was first posted to Facebook on November 24, five days after Australia’s triumph.
Cricket Australia’s logo is at the top and the names of its chairman Mike Baird and CEO Nick Hockley are on the bottom (archived links here and here).
“Its our honor that we have opportunity and privilege to read and learn from your cricket skills,” it says. “We name this world cup trophy to you and on behalf of Cricket Australia (CA) we like to invite you as chief guest to Australia to present Medal of the Order of Australia.”
The Medal of the Order of Australia is an honour awarded by the country’s governor-general based on recommendations from a dedicated council. It recognises outstanding achievement or service across all fields (archived link).
A screenshot of the false Facebook post
Australia defeated India in the final of the 2023 World Cup on November 19 to clinch the trophy a sixth time.
Pakistan have won the cup only once, which was under the captaincy of Khan in 1992. After his retirement from the game, Khan entered politics and formed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party in 1996. He became prime minister in 2018 but was ousted by a no-confidence vote in April 2022 (archived link).
The former leader has been in prison since August this year after he was convicted of corruption. That verdict was later overturned but Khan has been kept in custody on charges he leaked classified documents.
The photo of the fake letter was posted to Facebook here, here and here, as well as here, here and here on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Many social media users appeared to believe the claim.
“The world recognises Imran Khan as a great cricket player. Those who are speaking against him, their leader is corrupt,” says one comment on Facebook.
“They have given honour to Imran Khan because he was a good cricket player,” reads another.
Cricket Australia told AFP in an email on November 29 that it had neither dedicated the cup to Khan nor invited him to any ceremony.
“We can confirm that CA definitely did NOT dedicate the victory to Imran Khan and no such invitation has been issued,” it said.
The fake letter also claims to have been sent via the Australian High Commission in the Pakistani capital, but a spokesperson for the diplomatic mission said they knew nothing of the document.
“The Australian High Commission is not aware of any letter from Cricket Australia on this matter,” the spokesperson told AFP in an email on November 28.
Australia’s government runs a database of all honours recipients on the website for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (archived link). A search by AFP found no reference to Khan.
The bogus letter also contains multiple typographical errors. Its font sizes are inconsistent, while spelling, grammatical and punctuation mistakes litter the document, along with erroneously placed spaces.
It neither specifies a date for the purported ceremony nor when the letter was written.