Questions over tennis integrity need 'addressing’ - ESSA

Questions over tennis integrity need 'addressing’ - ESSA

Monday, September 7, 2015 Totally Gaming
Khalid Ali responded to reports about a Belgian investigation into tennis

ESSA has described tennis as “a growing concern” after it was reported that Belgian authorities are investigating suspicious betting activity surrounding the men’s ATP Challenger Tour.

Newspaper De Tijd said that the Belgian federal prosecutor's office has “very concrete evidence” relating to “hundreds of suspicious bets” made online and in betting shops in Belgium, Germany Switzerland and the UK.

Media reports say that the investigation centres on the Challenger Tour and also the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Futures tournament – both of which feature players outside of the top 300 ranked players.

The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) confirmed to today (Monday) that it is aware of the story from Belgium but said that its protocol meant it could not comment on “investigative matters”.

However, sports integrity organisation ESSA – which has reported high levels of suspicious betting in tennis in its first two quarterly reports of 2015 – said that there is “clearly an issue within the sport”.

ESSA secretary general Khalid Ali added: “ESSA doesn’t comment on individual cases, especially those involving on-going investigations.

“However, tennis has become a growing concern; our Q1 and Q2 integrity reports show tennis as representing 71 per cent and 83 per cent of all cases of suspicious sports betting referred to regulatory authorities during those periods. There is clearly an issue within the sport that needs addressing.”

ESSA’s reports for the first half of 2015 show that 36 of 47 cases deemed suspicious involved tennis.

De Tijd said that matches in Spain, Tunisia, Israel and Mexico were among those being investigated, involving players from countries including Italy and the US.

The bets were made in 2014 and the first half of 2015, De Tijd added, and surveillance footage has been gathered from betting shops in a series of Belgian cities.

The Federal Prosecutor's Office would not comment to today. The organisation was created to allow more effective action against crimes that are beyond the jurisdiction of local prosecutors, such as human trafficking, terrorism, organised crime and money laundering.

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