Match-Fixing Is Not a ‘Secret’ in Professional Tennis

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The secret is out that there may be a history of “match-fixing” in the professional tennis world.  Match-fixing occurs when a player is offered a certain amount of money to lose his or her tennis match.

According to an article by BBC, a former tennis player from South America who’s name is not mentioned said, “This is like a secret on the tour that everybody knows, but we don’t talk about it.”  The anonymous player continued to say that not only is match-fixing an issue in the lower-ranks of the professionals, but the highest rankings in the ATP tour.  

The unknown player also mentioned that the tennis authorities know who is doing the match-fixing, but are not trying to stop it.  According to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), they reject “any suggestion that evidence of match-fixing has been suppressed,” as well as “invite the player behind the allegations to make contact with the TIU and to share the information he claims to have.”

How does match-fixing work?  The former player said there were three groups who control the betting.  He also claimed that the payments made to the players who participate are cash.  Bank-to-bank transfers are not allowed.  The player said, “Each group has many guys who go to talk to players.  Also, they have many accounts.  They have 50-60 accounts where they place small money.  At the end, it’s huge money.  It’s really big.”

When asked how the player knew who was involved, they responded, “You know who is doing it and who is not.  As a player, I know who is missing on purpose or returning a shot in the middle on purpose… who is trying, and who is not.  So, we work on this. We know.”  The unknown player claimed that “players exchange knowing smiles and make comments that indicate they have fixed a match.”  

This seems pretty crazy if you ask me.  How can someone know by nonverbal communication that one has made a bet to lose his or her match as a professional athlete?

The anonymous player continued,

“I started to believe [top players were involved] a few years ago, when a guy told me the result of the next two tournaments. He told me exactly who was going to win and how it was going to happen. In the beginning, I thought he was just bragging about it to make me fall for his game.  But then I was laughing that every match was happening the way he had been telling me it was going to happen… and I’m talking about a Masters series, where there are just big names.”

Professional tennis players in the ATP tour such as Andy Murray, Novak Djokavic, Roger Federer and Serena Williams have something to say about the recent discussion of “match-fixing.”  British player Andy Murray said that he has never been approached by someone to lose a match.  He said he has called on the tennis authorities to be “proactive.”  Murray said, “As a player, you just want to be made aware of everything that’s going on. I think we deserve to know everything that’s out there,” he said.

In addition to Murray, the number one ranked tennis player in the world, Novak Djokovic, recently said he rejected $100,000 to lose a tennis match.  This occurred early in his tennis career and mentioned that there is “no real proof” of match-fixing on the professional tour.  Djokovic stated, “From my knowledge and information about match-fixing, there is nothing happening at the top level, as far as I know.”

Serena Williams, the number one ranked women’s player, responded to these claims by saying, “If it was taking place, I didn’t know about it.  When I’m playing, I can only answer for me.  I play very hard, and every player I play seems to play hard.”  

Grand Slam champion Roger Federer demands do know who is participating at the elite level.  Federer insisted on hearing names, “then at least it’s concrete stuff and you can actually debate about it.”

If the names were released to the public, one would be able to investigate whether this is true or just a rumor.  The Tennis Integrity Unit brings attention to the fact that they work “closely with players to prevent corruption through education programs and confidential reporting systems.  The great majority of the 21,000 active professional players are good people of high integrity who abhor the suggestion that the sport they love is tainted with allegations of corruption.”


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