Match-Fixing: 'Tsunami' Of Corruption At Lower Levels Claims IRP Report - UBITENNIS
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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

Kosmos Chief Says Davis Cup Will Continue ‘With Or Without’ Star Players Amid Boycott Fears

The key investor of the revamped team competition has hit back at criticism of its founder Gerard Pique.

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The CEO of investment firm Kosmos has played down fears over a series of high-profile players missing the Davis Cup finals next year as it switches to a week-long event.

Javier Alonso has spoken out about the issue during a trip to the Shanghai Masters. Alonso was at the Masters 1000 tournament alongside Barcelona F.C centre-back Gerard Pique, who is the founder of the company. Kosmos has pledged to invest $3 billion into the Davis Cup over the next 25 years. Under the new format, 18 teams will play in an end-of-season finals. Removing the tradition of home and away finals. The group consists of 12 qualified teams, the four semi-finalists from the previous year and two wild cards.

“Gerard Pique has not come to save the Davis Cup because there’s nothing to save, it’s a historical competition which will keep on existing, with or without tennis’ biggest stars.” Alonso told Spanish news agency EFE.

Pique was spotted holding a discussion with Novak Djokovic during his time in China. Although it is unclear as to what was discussed. The meeting came at a time where a series of high-profile players have cast doubts on their participation. Germany’s Alexander Zverev became the first top 10 player to publicly say that he will not be playing in the tournament. Saying that his decision has been made due to the timing of the event, which takes place at the end of November.

“Because in November I do not want to play tennis anymore. I think all the top guys will say the same thing.” Zverev told reporters in Shanghai about why he will miss the 2019 Davis Cup final.
“We have one-and-a-half months off in our season, and that’s the end of November and December. Making a tournament at the end of November, which is ten days long and playing and competing, it’s crazy. I mean, by the end of the year, we are all tired.”

Another blow came from 20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer. The Swiss world No.2 said that the event ‘wasn’t designed’ for him. Federer has previously warned Pique against trying to interfere with the Davis Cup. Saying that the team event should not be turned into the ‘Pique Cup.’

“No, I highly doubt [I’ll be there],” said Federer. “We’ll see what happens.
“I don’t think this was designed for me anyhow. This was designed for the future generation of players.”

Djokovic is also yet to commit to the event. His meeting with Pique in Shanghai has been described as one that ‘has been done a million times before.’ Indicating that no new agreements has been made.

Alonso, who was the former director general of Dorma Sports, has dismissed allegations that his company is trying to fix the team tournament. Saying that the future of the event is not under threat. The words come as the ATP gets ready to bring back the World Team Cup from 2020. An event that will offer ranking points and prize money.

“We’ve not come to save anything because there’s nothing to save. The Davis Cup is 118 years old and will keep getting older.” He stated.
“It’s a team competition and the most important things is the teams, not the players.”

Next year’s Davis Cup finals will take place at the Caja Magica between November 18th to 24th.

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Davis Cup

Alexander Zverev To Skip Davis Cup And Warns Other Players Could Do The Same

It has been revealed that at least two other high-profile players are yet to commit to the team tournament following its revamp.

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German world No.5 Alexander Zverev has confirmed that he will skip the Davis Cup finals next year due to the ‘crazy’ scheduling of the event.

The historic men’s tournament is set to go through the biggest change in its history. In 2019 a 18-team tournament will be played at the end of November with a similar structure to that of the World Cup. The finals will consist of 12 qualified teams, the four semi-finalists from the previous year and two wild cards. Investment firm Kosmos, which is owned by Gerard Pique, has pledged to invest $3 billion over 25 years.

Despite the new format being approved at the International Tennis Federation’s annual AGM meeting, there are critics. Countries such as Australia are unhappy about the decision to play the finals at a neutral venue. Taking away home and away ties. There are also questions about how Kosmos and the ITF will guarantee their investment over the coming years.

The biggest issue the tournament is facing concerns the scheduling. It will get underway at the end of November after the ATP World Tour finals. Cutting into what is already a short off-season break for players. Speaking about the event, 21-year-old Zverev has criticised the timing. Stating that he will not be playing.

“Because in November I do not want to play tennis anymore. I think all the top guys will say the same thing.” Zverev told reporters in Shanghai on Wednesday.
“We have one-and-a-half months off in our season, and that’s the end of November and December. Making a tournament at the end of November, which is ten days long and playing and competing, it’s crazy. I mean, by the end of the year, we are all tired.”

Zverev isn’t the only player to have reservations. The Times Newspaper has reported that both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are yet to commit to the event. It is understood that Serbia and Switzerland was initially on course to receive wildcards for next year’s final. However, the plan failed after both players didn’t give a definite answer about if they would play. Instead Great Britain and Argentina received the wildcards.

“I mean, for us as top players we had discussions, we had talks with ATP how to make the season shorter and not longer. No, it’s not happening, and I guarantee you I will not be the only one.” Zverev commented about playing in the Davis Cup.

The ITF has previously said that holding a week-long Davis Cup competition would help attract top players as they reduce the number of ties played throughout the year. Although this argument is under scrutiny after the ITF confirmed that they want to implement two new exhibition events during the year. A winner-takes-all event and a mixed team competition. Meaning that players who participate will be no better off with their scheduling.

As well as the Davis Cup, at the start of 2020 the ATP is planning to bring back the World Team Cup. Meaning that there will be less than two months separating the two events. The tournament will take place across Australian with prize money and ranking points up for grabs.

The 2019 Davis Cup finals will be hosted in Madrid at the Caja Magica. It will take place from November 18-24.

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Fed Cup

Great Britain To Host First Fed Cup Tournament In 25 Years

The LTA hopes the move will help generate interest in the event around the UK.

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The British Fed Cup team will play their first home tie since 1993 after the LTA confirmed that they will co-host the 2019 Europe/Africa Group I competition.

The group event will feature a total of 15 teams split between the two nations. Poland is the other country hosting the event. Britain will host their event at the University of Bath with a total of eight teams taking part. The group will be split into half with the winner of each progressing to the finals. Whoever wins will move into the World Group play-offs in April.

“I’m thrilled that the International Tennis Federation has awarded us the opportunity to co-host the Europe/Africa Zone Group I stage of the 2019 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas.” LTA Chief Executive, Scott Lloyd, said in a statement.
“Staging this Fed Cup tie forms a key part of our new strategy to open up tennis by showcasing our women’s team and bringing world-class tennis to new and existing British fans.”

British Fed Cup captain Anne Keothavong has hailed the move. Saying it provides an opportunity to showcase the Fed Cup to British fans. Keothavong has played in 39 ties in the team tournament between 2001-2013. She has been the British captain since 2016.

“This will give us a platform to show everyone what Fed Cup is all about and the passion the players have for the competition.” She said.
“I’m hoping we can replicate the support our Davis Cup team gets and that seeing our players perform up close will inspire the next generation of kids to get out there and pick up a racket.”

Great Britain, who are currently ranked 18th in the world, hasn’t played in the World Group since 1993. They have progressed to the Group II play-offs four times since 2012, but has lost all of those clashes. The most recent was a 3-2 defeat to Japan in April.

“I know Jo and Heather aren’t in the place they’d like to be, their rankings have dropped, but you only have to look at their Fed Cup records to know they’re capable of rising to the occasion,” Keothavong said via The Press Association.
“We’ve got players like Katie Boulter, Katie Swan, Gabi Taylor, all of whom have hit career-high rankings this year and are only improving. This will be a great opportunity for the younger players to really compete for a place in the team.”

A draw will take place later this week to decide which teams will compete in Britain and Poland. The four-day event will take place between 6–9 February.

Europe/Africa Zone Group I nations: Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey and Ukraine.

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