Sportradar raises concerns over Integrity Review Panel proposals

Sportradar raises concerns over Integrity Review Panel proposals

Thursday, April 26, 2018 Posted by Michael Lawson
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Sportradar argued that the panel had been heavy-handed in its proposals.

Sports data firm Sportradar has questioned the findings of a two-year study by the Integrity Review Panel (IRP), that argued tennis needs to readdress its relationship with betting if the sport is to diminish corruption and match-fixing.

Led by sports law QC Adam Lewis, the independent report stressed that “corruption has taken root at the heart of tennis, particularly at the lower levels of the game”.

In its study, the IRP surveyed more than 3200 professional tennis players, with 464 athletes stating that they “had first-hand knowledge of match fixing”.

Sportradar argued that the panel had been heavy-handed in its proposals and that “prohibiting data partnerships” would not solve corruption.

At present, Sportradar provides tennis live match data, under the terms of a $70 million five-year agreement. The firm also monitors all-levels of professional tennis including ‘Challenger’ and ‘Futures’ tournaments.

A Sportradar spokesperson elaborated further: “The most immediate concern is recommendation 1(a), which suggests that the sale of official live scoring data on the ITF’s $15k and $25k Pro Circuit events should be discontinued.

“On face value, this looks to be unrealistic, potentially unlawful and we would have serious reservations about the credibility of such a recommendation. Prohibition simply doesn’t work.

“Prohibiting data partnerships will not stop betting, live or otherwise, on these matches nor will it remove corruption risk at this level. Pre-match betting will remain available; unofficial data will be collected; generally available match statistics can be used by betting operators anyway; the risk of data fraud and ghost matches will increase; and there will be no clear contractual basis by which operators will be bound to reporting and transparency requirements.”

From a betting-related standpoint, the IRP recommends drastic measures to curb potential corruption, with the panel endorsing a drastic reduction in the live scoring data supplied to bookmakers.

The live-scoring data reduction should lead to bookmakers discontinuing their match/tournament market inventories at the lower levels of tennis.

In contrast, sports betting integrity body ESSA has praised the report. ESSA released a statement in the aftermath of the report: “ESSA welcomes the publication of the Review Panel’s interim report and the extensive recommendations contained within it. These relate to multiple areas including the availability of betting on tennis events, betting sponsorship of those events and the sale of event data to betting operators.

“ESSA will now begin to consider the detail of the interim report and to consult with our members, which represent many of the largest regulated betting operators, to determine how best to respond to the report’s initial findings and recommendations. It is important to highlight that this is an interim report, which opens a further period of discussion and consultation.

“ESSA and its members have been working closely with the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) to address potential betting related match-fixing throughout this process and are committed to working with them to tackle corruption. This has delivered a number of positive investigative actions and sanctions and we will continue to work in partnership with the tennis authorities.”   

Totally Gaming says: The findings from the IRP’s two-year study will come as a shock to many, but it’s how the tennis world responds that will be crucial. A sustained drive to stamp out corruption at all levels is the only solution. Rather than infighting, the sport should join together to stamp out this scourge.

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