Concern over 'continuing integrity issues' in tennis

Concern over 'continuing integrity issues' in tennis

Friday, December 2, 2016
Spanish police break open a match fixing network

The betting industry has expressed its concern around the integrity issues that seem to be blighting the sport of tennis after it emerged that Spanish authorities have detained 34 people, including six tennis players, involved in a tennis match-fixing network that made more than US$500,000 from lower-tier tournaments in Spain and Portugal.

‘Operation Futures’ investigated several Futures and Challenger tournaments in Iberia for the past several months and found evidence that results were fixed.

Khalid Ali, secretary general of betting integrity body ESSA, which represents many of the major regulated betting operators, expressed his concern to TotallyGaming.com at the ‘continuing integrity issues within the sport’.

But he said that the association ‘welcomed the more proactive approach to combatting match-fixing being displayed by the sport's governing authorities. ESSA continues to liaise closely with the Tennis Integrity Unit and share data surrounding potential corruption’.

The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), the body set up by the sport to help the fight against corruption, trigged the police investigation after identifying suspicious betting patterns. It told Reuters in an email that it was letting the authorities take the lead on this issue. “Investigation of corruption allegations by law enforcement agencies takes precedence over tennis disciplinary action. The TIU will continue to work co-operatively with [Spanish police] and offer its full support and access to resources.”

Police reportedly found evidence of match-fixing attempts in 17 men’s tournaments in five cities, including Madrid, Seville and Porto involving players between Nos. 800 and 1,200 in the world. The alleged fixed matches were estimated to involve takings of over half a million euros.

According to the reports, players who participated in the scheme would receive about US$1,000 for each match with instructions to ‘spot fix’ specific points or games.

Anyone convicted of corruption in sports could face prison sentences of up to four years.

Totally Gaming says: Tennis accounted for 84% of the suspicious betting alerts triggered by ESSA in Q3, a figure which corresponds with the previous two quarters of the year where the sport accounted for 83% (Q2) and 82% (Q1) of ESSA alerts. It is the ‘Futures’ and ‘Challengers’ tours that are particularly vulnerable, where the prize money for those who have little chance of winning is particularly low and it is these events that get most of the focus of the TIU.

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