ESSA: 'Corrupters prey on sports with poor governance'

ESSA: 'Corrupters prey on sports with poor governance'

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 Totally Gaming
Mike O'Kane said that tennis and football accrued 23 suspicious betting alerts

Sports integrity organisation ESSA has been critical of "poor governance" in sport as it reported 23 cases of suspicious betting in tennis and football in the second quarter of 2015.

ESSA said that 19 – or 83 per cent - of the alerts highlighted during the three months to June 30 were within tennis, with football, the only other sport that came into that category, being the subject of four complaints.

The pattern is a continuation of the first quarter, when 17 of 24 suspicious alerts raised related to tennis matches, and ESSA chairman Mike O’Kane believes sports must respond effectively to the threat posed by match-fixing. 

“While we have not seen an upsurge in alerts during Q2, concerns remain regarding certain sports,” O’Kane said. “It is my firm belief that corrupters will continue to prey on sports with poor governance and financial management structures, which is unfortunately widespread in the sector, and that this will continue to weaken the fight against fixers.”

The Association of Tennis Professionals, Women’s Tennis Association and International Tennis Federation did not respond to TotallyGaming.com requests for comment about the integrity of the sport or the performance of the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU). A TIU spokesman told TotallyGaming.com: "Tennis has taken a lead among major sports in recognising and addressing integrity issues with a zero tolerance approach backed up with a permanent, dedicated investigative unit."

Overall, during the second quarter of 2015, ESSA members raised 73 alerts of which, after detailed examination, 23 were found to be suspicious and were reported to the relevant regulatory body for further investigation.

While there were fewer cases of suspicious betting in football, O’Kane was critical of the example set by the sport's global governing body Fifa, which was revealed to be the subject of a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigation relating to corruption during the period.

“A number of high-profile scandals have sadly dominated sport since the publication of our first quarterly integrity report," O’Kane said. “These relate to suspected match-fixing, most notably in Italy and Spain, and also wider corruption in sport with the revelations of alleged high-profile corrupt practices at senior levels in world football’s governing body, Fifa.

“The two issues are, in a broad sense, linked and good governance practices in sport are an important barometer of its overall integrity level.”

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