Tennis match-fixing: Sport judged to have "serious integrity problem" at lower levels

 
Joe Hall
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The report found that "the nature of the game lends itself to corruption" (Source: Getty)

Professional tennis has a "serious integrity problem" and is threatened by a "tsunami" of corruption at its lower levels, according to a new multi-million pound report into the sport.

The Independent Review of Integrity in Tennis, set up in January 2016 following reports of corruption, recommends that the International Tennis Federation (ITF) foregoes potential revenue streams by banning betting companies from sponsoring lower-level events.

No evidence was found of top-level players being implicated in match-fixing and only "some evidence" was found of top events such as Grand Slams and ATP Tour events being open to manipulation.

Yet the report, which was led by Adrian Lewis QC and surveyed over 3,200 players, concluded that the problem at the middle and lower levels of the sport was "very significant".

Read more: Tennis match-fixing - Why sport authorities should outsource governance and regulatory work to independent bodies to avoid corruption scandals

The advent of betting and live scoring data is adjudged to have greatly exacerbated the issue as thousands of games at all levels are now open to speculation.

"The nature of the game lends itself to manipulation for betting purposes," reads the report.

"There is only one player who must act. Detection is difficult, not least because at many lower level matches there are no spectators and inadequate facilities to protect players from potential corruptors. Moreover, under-performance is often attributed to 'tanking', which too often has been tolerated.

"Only the top 250 to 350 players earn enough money to break even. Yet there are nominally 15,000 or so 'professional' players. The imbalance between prize money and the cost of competing places players in an invidious position by tempting them to contrive matches for financial reward."

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Of the 3,218 players surveyed, 14.5 per cent indicated that they had first-hand knowledge of match-fixing and 11.4 per cent said they had first-hand knowledge of a player providing inside information on their likely performance.

As well as banning betting companies from sponsoring lower-level tournaments, it is recommended that the sale of live scoring data is discontinued and better security for players is provided at such events.

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