Sportradar attacks recommendation to discontinue tennis data sales

Sportradar attacks recommendation to discontinue tennis data sales

Tuesday, October 23, 2018 Posted by News Team
Data specialist calls for new body to be set up to coordinate integrity efforts in tennis

Sportradar has issued a belated response to the Independent Review of Integrity in Tennis report, taking aim at the recommendation that betting on low-level matches should be banned. 

In its response Sportradar said that while it supported the majority of recommendations, it felt that a ban on data sales at the lower levels of professional tennis would further harm, rather than protect, the sport's integrity. 

The report was published in April this year, and claimed that tennis had been engulfed by a “tsunami” of corruption at the lower levels of the game. This, the report authors said, had been kicked off by Sportradar’s 2012 deal with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to distribute data on small and intermediate tournaments for betting purposes.

“Attempting a total data black-out on a sport has never been done, or even trialed or tested before. Counter evidence and expert analysis indicate that such an approach is likely to have a harmful effect on integrity, which would be hard to reverse if unsuccessful,” Sportradar managing director of group operations David Lampitt said.

“So, the Panel is staking its reputation, and that of the sport, on an uncertain ‘guess’, when there is good evidence that a different approach and an incremental process of implementing enhanced and targeted measures would be more likely to deliver successful outcomes and integrity benefits.

“If the recommendations remain unchanged, they would push the betting market underground where the integrity issues would be out of sight. This may give the veneer of improving the situation but would not deal with the underlying issues,” he added. “These must not be brushed under the carpet.”

Lampitt added that ITF tennis had the lowest risk of corruption across all levels of professional tennis including the Grand Slam events. 

Instead of a blanket ban on data collection for low-level ITF competitions, Sportradar instead recommended restrictions be implemented for specific matches that were particularly at risk of corruption. This, it said, would tackle corruption on a case-by-case basis, and is already being done through its ITF partnership. 

Sportradar also called for a new body, comprising representatives from tennis, betting companies and sports data providers to lead new, collaborative efforts to tackle corruption. 

It also argued in favour of increased audiovisual streaming coverage of lower-tier tennis to help provide reliable evidence of potential corruption. This should be backed up by regulations to ensure quicker sanctions to be handed out, as well as controls to protect players from online abuse. 

Sportradar concluded by saying that it could ultimately not support an arbitrary ban on data collection or betting at any level. While it said that this could even be commercially advantageous to its commercial business, such measures would ultimately fail to achieve the goal of tackling corruption.

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