This story is a couple days old, but worth refreshing. On the heels on Nikolay Davenko’s investigation last month, I wrote about how tennis is an easy target for criminal organizations looking to cash in by fixing matches. Well, things are not getting any better for tennis.
According to reports – and chances are you’ve heard the news – Novak Djokovic revealed that he was offered $220K to throw a match at St. Petersburg last year. That’s not money to show up at the tournament (i.e., guarantee money), but money that would be given to him by criminals interests provided he lost his first round match.
Djokovic wound up never playing in St. Pete, but if he had and had accepted and followed-thru with the deal just how many people would have actually known? I mean, how many people even know there’s a tournament in St. Pete??
And it doesn’t stop there.
Belgian fringe players Gilles Elseneer and Dick Norman disclosed that they, too, have been asked to tank.
Writes Leo Schlink in the Melbourne Herald Sun, “Elseneer said he was told he could earn $114,000 if he lost his first-round match at Wimbledon two years ago against Italian Potito Starace. Elseneer said he dismissed the offer out of hand and won the match in straight sets. Norman said he had been offered almost $15,000 to provide information on player injuries but refused.”
Said Elsner: “I had my honour as a player to protect and Wimbledon meant everything to me. They said I should take my time and give them my reply the next day, but I only needed a couple of minutes to realise it was impossible for me to contemplate.”
Tommy Haas weighed in giving his thoughts to Reuters: “You hear stories and you wonder why we aren’t watching out for these guys at tournaments. There have been cases where it’s quite obvious. We’ve had meetings about gambling… those who do it shouldn’t get away with it.”
Pat Cash wants to set up a policing unit, and he says he knows just who to target, “There is obviously a lot of money to be made, and from what I’ve heard, a lot of this comes back to the Russian mafia. I was never approached myself, but I have heard the rumours and they are pretty strong. There are some big gamblers trying to get involved in the sport, and it would be better for everyone if they weren’t there.”
While it’s refreshing that Djokovic, Elseneer and Norman did the right thing and turned the other way, but you really have to wonder just how many players do not and say yes. It’s scary to think that if people are approaching guys like Dick Norman and Gilles Elseneer at Wimbledon, imagine who else is getting hit up ot even worse, who bites and takes the offer.
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