Match-Fixing: ‘Tsunami’ Of Corruption At Lower Levels Claims IRP Report

A long awaited report into the corruption of tennis has claimed that there is a ‘tsunami’ of corruption at the lower levels of tennis.

The IRP (Independent Review Panel) report, which has taken more than two years to release and has roughly cost £20 million, has looked into the corruption levels of tennis and states there is a ‘very significant’ amount of corruption in the ‘lower and middle levels of the sport.’ The report also states that it is mainly the men’s game that this occurs in.

However the report has suggested that there has been no evidence of a cover-up by the TIU (Tennis Integrity Unit) or any other governing bodies. The report interviewed more than 100 players and more than 200 key stakeholders, which includes governing bodies, betting operators and tournament officials. The report was compiled by a team of sports specialist lawyers, which was lead by London QC, Adam Lewis, who also held a press conference.

Here are the main details that were discussed in the report and also in Adam Lewis’ press conference:

  • One betting operator in the report described the situation as ‘grimmer than grim’
  • The report identified that the season for match-fixing is from October until the end of the year with “traces of up to two or three fixed matches per day” in ITF tournaments.
  • One of the proposes made by the report is to end betting sponsorship from tennis especially tournaments. This is as William Hill sponsored the Australian Open once before.
  • Investigations at the four grand slams were “insufficient” and other investigations were “inappropriate or ineffective, resulting in missed opportunities”
  • The ATP World Tour are guilty of “failing to exhaust potential leads before ending investigations.”
  • The Tennis Integrity Unit should be reorganised and reformed. Ideally with Betting expertise as there are too many British law enforcement officers, with no betting expertise.
  • Deliberately losing part of a match should be considered as an integrity offence.
  • A potential conflict in interest with the ITF sharing the same headquarters location as the TIU.
  • The TIU should also publish more betting patterns as well as have more regional offices and representatives around the world.
  • The panel has concluded that there is underused betting data.

The panel has also recommended better security for players as well as methods to prevent online abuse from occurring. The report received 3,200 player survey responses at all levels around the world, with 464 saying they had first-hand knowledge of match fixing.

Analysis

The report hopes to draw some light on what has been a dark era for Tennis in match-fixing. In this report key problems were outlined such as betting sponsorships and how ineffective governing bodies have been on tackling this issue. Some solutions were also outlined in the report although some were more useful and detailed than others. It was interesting to realise that the issue of prize money was not discussed in this report as many feel that more money should be funded into the Challenger circuit and ITF circuit, which might have led to an increase into match-fixing at the lower levels.

It is now up to the Tennis Integrity Unit to act and be proactive on the solutions that were discussed including betting sponsorships, betting expertise on their panel and the whole issue surrounding player security. It will also be interesting to hear from other governing bodies including the ATP on how they deal with these issues and if any unity is shown throughout the coming months.

 

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