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

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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.

 

Davis Cup

Davis Cup Reforms Anger Players And Federations

Players including Lucas Pouille and John Millman have aimed their anger over the Davis Cup reforms that were approved today.

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Lucas Pouille (zimbio.com)

The new Davis Cup reforms have angered players such as Lucas Pouille, Nicolas Mahut, Robin Haase and John Millman and also federations. 

The reforms were approved today after a 71% approval from the AGM meeting in Orlando, Florida. It means that the Davis Cup will now have an 18 team world group at the end of the season and has a 3 billion dollar investment for grassroot tennis for the next 25 years. For more information on next year’s format, please watch the following guide below, which explains the new ‘Davis Cup’:

However the reforms have not gone down well with some of the players and federations. Especially with the players as they were not allowed to have a say in a competition that they will ultimately be playing in. Here are some of the most high profile reactions:

Lucas Pouille

The Frenchman was not happy at the reforms and before the vote, stated he would boycott the competition if they were passed. He said the following on Twitter:

Robin Haase: “I always played tennis because it is my passion. Yes many players can make a good living from it. So do I. However it is not the reason why I started. It has always been an honour to represent my country but now a beautiful event only became about money.”

Nicolas Mahut

The French doubles specialist wrote the following, “Even Cincinnati mourns the ridiculous decision of the ITF. The 12 voices of the FFT have done very badly. Very difficult decision to assume as a Frenchman. The CD (Coupe Davis) died and part of our history flew away for a handful of dollars.”

John Millman

The Australian compared it to someone doing the same thing to the Champions League in Football and explained how it was ironic that the reforms passed on National Tell A Joke Day in Australia:

https://twitter.com/johnhmillman/status/1030081610115416065

https://twitter.com/johnhmillman/status/1030098787635810304

Anabel Medina Garrigues

The Spanish Fed Cup captain wasn’t amused that the Women weren’t getting a mention in all of this as they still only have an eight team World Group. She stated, “It is alright that there is debate and voting in tennis, discussion about tournaments and formats. But what about women’s tennis? What about the Fed Cup? Why the same institution (ITF) that’s considering reformatting the Davis Cup, is not taking into consideration women’s tennis?”

Tennis Australia and DTB

Finally, Tennis Australia and the German Tennis federation were not happy at the result as both Federations voted against the reforms. The DTB chairman, Ulrich Klaus, said the following statement, “This result is a very bitter pill to swallow. Right now, I am at a loss for words. Sadly, the discussion in the last few days was mainly about money and not about the sport.”

While Tennis Australia sent out the following statement:

It is clear that although many federations, David Haggerty and Gerard Pique are happy at the reforms, the players that will be involved in it certainly are not. 

 

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Davis Cup

Davis Cup Reforms Passes Vote At Orlando AGM Meeting

The Davis Cup will receive a transformation next year after the reforms received a 71% majority at the AGM meeting in Orlando.

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David Haggerty (zimbio.com)

The Davis Cup Reforms have passed through at an AGM meeting in Orlando, Florida. The reforms got a 71 % majority meaning that the 118 year competition will receive a complete overhaul next year. The ITF will be given a 3 billion dollar investment for the next 25 years by Kosmos, who is lead by Barcelona football star, Gerard Pique. 

The vote passed at around 10am Orlando time with 71% of Federations agreeing to the Davis Cup reforms that have been set out, which will see an 18 team tournament at the end of next year. Despite concerns from Australia, Germany, Great Britain, India and Poland, the majority of Federations agreed to it, with the main reason being for economic benefit. The vote means that from next year the Davis Cup will have a major overhaul, which includes the following:

  • An 18 team world group at the end of next year, spread over a week. It will includes, 6 Round Robin Groups, with the Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and Final.
  • There will be a 24 team qualifying round in February, where the 12 winners will qualify for November’s World Group.
  • The other six teams will consist of the four semi-finalists from the previous year and two wildcards.
  • The two worst teams from the World Group will be automatically relegated to the Zone Groups, while teams from 5th to 16th will compete in the following year’s qualifying event.
  • The qualifying event will be four singles matches and one doubles over two days.
  • The end of year event will be two singles and one doubles played in one day.
  • All ties will be best of three tiebreak sets.

After the vote, Gerard Pique was seen celebrating his win with his team as his aim to invest in Tennis succeeded:

Calendar Issues? 

After their big victory the ITF now face a major problem in convincing top players to participate as the ATP World Cup of Tennis event will start just one month after the Davis Cup finals event finishes. Players like Lucas Pouille and Alexander Zverev have already announced that they will boycott the event in 2019 , with many more set to join them.

What Happens Next? 

The ITF will now have to debate where to hold the first edition of the tournament, with the venue set to be either Madrid or Lille. It has also been announced that they will announce the two wildcards just before the draw for the qualifying event, with those 12 ties set to take place in February. The ITF also have to consider what to fill April and September with now as a Hopman Cup style event as well as a winners take all weekend have been discussed for the future.

Whether you like the changes or not, today is a very sad day for Tennis as 118 years of history has been wiped out with 3 billion dollars worth of investment.

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Davis Cup

Great Britain To Oppose Davis Cup Reform

After a series of discussions, the LTA has outlined three reasons why they will not back the overhaul of the 118-year-old competition.

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The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has announced that they will not support the proposed reform of the Davis Cup on the eve of the critical vote in what is a blow to the International Tennis Federation.

On Thursday national tennis federations will attend the ITF’s AGM meeting in Orlando to vote on the proposal. The radical plan is for the men’s event to be transformed into 18-team event that will be held at one location at the end of the year over a week. It has received financial backing from Kosmos, who has pledged to invest $3 billion over 25. Kosmos is owned by Barcelona F.C. Footballer Gerard Pique. Indian Wells Owner Larry Ellison has also pledged his support.

Backed by ITF president Davis Haggerty, the plan has drawn criticism and concerns from some federations. The latest of those is the LTA, who is a key voter. Great Britain is one of five countries that has the maximum of 12 votes. Along with the other grand slam host nations and Germany. There is roughly 460 votes up for grabs.

“The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has today informed the International Tennis Federation (ITF) that, regrettably, it is unable to support their proposed Davis Cup reforms at this time, and will oppose the resolution at the ITF AGM tomorrow.” A statement reads.

Their decision contradicts the stance of the chairman of The All-England Club, venue of the Wimbledon Championships. Philip Brook told Reuters earlier this month that the AELTC supported the move because it is in ‘the best interests of tennis to ensure that the Davis Cup has a strong and successful future.’

The LTA has highlighted three areas of the plan that they are concerned about. These are the impact the new event could have on the tennis calendar, a ‘number of outstanding queries‘ the association has and the division the plan has caused.

“The Davis Cup is loved by so many people in our country. From Roger Taylor to Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski, and more recently Andy and Jamie Murray, the Davis Cup has seen some of the greatest players in the history of British tennis deliver some of the most memorable moments in our sport. The competition plays a vital role in supporting the LTA’s vision to open up tennis in Britain.” Said CEO Scott Lloyd.
“We take our responsibilities with regard to voting on the future of the competition extremely seriously and after consulting widely, regrettably, we do not feel we can support the proposals as they stand. The LTA remains fully supportive of the ITF and its leadership and we will work together on the future of Davis Cup regardless of the outcome of tomorrow’s vote.”

In order for the Kosmos-backed Davis Cup to be given the green light, it needs to be passed by a majority of 66.6% yes votes or more. Ubitennis has published a poll of journalists across Europe, North America and South America about how they think their tennis federations will vote.

The three areas of concern raised by the LTA

  1. The LTA’s vision is to grow and open up the sport. Concerns remain that the proposed format and its impact on the tennis calendar, extending the season for players, risks player participation and therefore fan appeal;
  2. Despite some real progress in developing the format, there remain a number of outstanding queries, particularly on the clarity of how the business case will work in practice, which has led the LTA to conclude that it is too early to seek approval;
  3. The proposal has created division amongst the member nations. The strength of the ITF in governing and developing tennis across the world will be reinforced by bringing tennis together behind a unified proposal and the LTA feels we have not yet reached that point.

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