by Amy Finch
The independent investigation into global tennis matching, which cost £20mln, is due to be completed on 25 June.
The interim report, released at the end of April, found a “tsunami” of corruption at the lower levels of tennis, driven partly by the huge growth of online, in-play gambling.
“Tennis has a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption in any form and recognises that the integrity of the sport is absolutely paramount,” Mark Harrison, Head of Communications at the Tennis Integrity Unit, which authored the report, said.
The UK gambling industry takes £14bn a year from punters, with bookmaker William Hill seeing a 13 per cent increase in sports betting between 2016 and 2017.
“The amount of money involved in sport, its globalisation, and increased media coverage means that it is being increasingly targeted,” said Dr Keith Parry, a senior lecturer in sociology of sport at Western Sydney University.
The independent panel have surveyed 3,200 players across the professional game, and found that 15 per cent had experienced match fixing firsthand. However, they found no evidence of cover up by tennis authorities.
Low prize money, high involvement costs and ripe opportunities meant that low-ranking players were especially vulnerable, found the report.
Moreover, the decision to sell live data from games at the lower levels of tennis to the company Sportradar likely exacerbated this. With betting companies able to provide odds for these games, they are a target for match fixers. The report’s authors recommend terminating this, which has been broadly accepted in statements from tennis authorities worldwide.
Dr Charles Livingstone, head of the Gambling and Social Determinants unit at Monash University, Australia, believes that this won’t be sufficient.
“We need to end bookie sponsorship and associating gambling advertising with sports, ” said Dr Livingstone.
Investigations in other sports have found that these activities may also extend to the highest grades. Nicolás Kicker, ranked world 84th, became the highest ranked player convicted of match-fixing in May.
Featured Image: Nicolás Kicker. Picture by Carine06 on Flickr