Let’s Talk Match Fixing In Tennis!
by Sean Randall | January 20th, 2016, 12:36 pm
  • 39 Comments

So the big news from the first three days at the Australian Open wasn’t what happened on the court, but unfortunately what’s taking place off it. Specifically, gambling thugs are continuing to make their presence felt in tennis, especially at the lower levels, targeting players and allegedly at times threatening them to fix matches, that according to a new report form Buzzfeed and the BBC.

Is this breaking news? Not really. We’ve known about match-fixing and gambling in tennis for quite some time. I even wrote about it back in 2007 in the Davydenko aftermath and again following the the Djokovic bride revelation.

But the evidence is mounting that the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), which was established as a result of the Davydenko case, just isn’t doing enough. And per the report, with just two employees how can they properly police tennis on a global level – not just Tour, but also Challenger and Futures events which are everywhere and are available to gamblers online?

Answer: They can’t. And really no matter how many staffers they hire this will continue. That’s the sad truth not just in tennis but in all of sports. Where there’s a buck to be made, there will be people looking to take the easy way.

Thus far, no names have been released. And until that time, there’s not much known other than this alleged incriminating data which, according to the reports, has been repeatedly ignored by the TIU, hence the need to go public here. But I’m with Roger Federer who says let’s hear the names, because without them there’s not much to go on here other than the Davydenko incident which we know was mishandled.

That said. is the TIU doing enough? Probably not.

Does match-fixing go on in tennis? Yes (hence the bans).

Is it widespread? It sounds to be more concentrated at the lower levels, so if anythings, that’s a relief. But I say that because few have heard of the players who have been banned.

Will match-fixing continue? Probably.

Will this report change things for the better? I hope. It raises the awareness and it should make players more willing to speak up about any incidents, and it should provide some extra money for authorities to police the issue.

But will any changes ultimately stop match fixing? No.

Short of doing away with gambling in tennis – and that’s 100% not happening because of all the money out there (though they could limit some of the various forms of “live” betting which are a major weakness here) – this issue is really up to the players to just say “no”.

A TIU or tennis official cannot be on every corner or in every lobby preventing these “evil-doers” from getting access to players. It’s going to happen. So, like the drug issue, this falls on the players.

“Do I want to go down that road or not?”

And anyone caught should be banned from the sport. That simple.

I understand in this scandal there is talk of the TIU hiding or covering up crimes for fear of losing the sport. Well, if you don’t become more open about your findings and your methodology you might lose them anyway. I hope for now we can return to tennis, but unfortunately this isn’t going away for good anytime soon. And just wait until those names come out, because they are going to. Oh boy.


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39 Comments for Let’s Talk Match Fixing In Tennis!

Ben Pronin Says:

If a player would rather make extra money by fixing a match then they’re probably not that ambitious anyway. Who cares as long as the top guys aren’t doing it?


RZ Says:

Some names have been released as of today, but they are missing a lot of context. Here is the link that has the names: http://showlegend.tumblr.com/post/137644525409/the-buzzfeed-15-exposed

Here is a link that provides context about one particular player on the list – and explains why that player should be considered innocent. (Having seen the list of those matches, I agree with the author). http://www.sportdw.com/2016/01/tennis-fixing-buzzfeed-hewitt-innocent.html


RZ Says:

IMPORTANT CORRECTION to my post above. The first link does NOT include the actual names that were part of the investigation. Rather, it includes a list of names that the authors of this particular article (not the Buzzfeed original) found as part of their analysis. “We have analysed the available Buzzfeed data and matched this with our own ATP database and we can now publish the names of the 15 players involved.”


MMT Says:

What I find troubling is that the list of players, which I can only presume corresponds to the, as yet, unpublished list from the BuzzFeed/BBC report(s) is based entirely on betting patterns. While that should factor into the determination of whether match fixing is occurring, there is no substitute for hard evidence.

That’s why the case of Martin Vassallo Arguello is so puzzling: he was Davydenko’s opponent in the match that elicited the initial the suspicions surrounding the Russian. And as part of their investigation into that match, they discovered ample evidence that Vassallo Arguello had been in contact (by way of approximately 82 texts) with known associates of Betfair account holders that collectively made hundreds of thousands off of his matches.

But Vassallo Arguello’s ancillary suspicion was not further investigated, following a dead-end in the inquiry into Davydenko. That for me is very troubling, because they seemed anxious to close the book on Vassallo Arguello when the Davydenko case was closed, and it shouldn’t have been. That man continued to play 4 more years.

Ultimately I think 3 things will happen: (1) the TIU will be staffed with more people, (2) investigations will evolve to become nearly permanent – like the Kenneth Starr’s never-ending investigation into the Clintons and (3) eventually at least 1 or 2 very well known/celebrated players will be harshly dealt with almost as a sacrificial lamb.

It’s a shame because if they had dealt with this more transparently and earlier this could have been headed off before it inevitably becomes a hunt in search of prey.


Ben Pronin Says:

From what I understand, the Davydenko case was almost too obvious but there were threats of violence if the investigation continued so they dropped it and cleared him. Even though it was obvious.


Margot Says:

Of course it matters Ben, it tarnishes the whole sport.
On line gambling makes “fixing” easier and more tempting I guess and betting companies sponsoring events hardly helps.
I understand Russia and Italy are being fingered, and of course the mafia is huge in those countries.


Chrisford1 Says:

The thing that I want to talk about most is the BBC and Buzzfeed timing their slime piece to when it damaged the Australian Open, mainly by diverting attention from it to the SCANDAL!!!!!
They had two months of nothing much happening before the AO and two months of not much happening after.

Could be a machination to undermine Kermode. Or London financial going after the banks sponsoring the AO.

Anyhow, payback is a beast. Get ready for the Aussie media to run some pieces in June on Andy and steroids, EPO. How a higher cancer rate is seen in Wimbledon ticketholders in the opinion of an “un-named whistleblower”. Not that there is a shred of proof of either, but with any luck the Aussies will make it the dominant storyline through the course of Wimbledon.

Thats what I want to bring up first and foremost. Qui bono! Who benefits from dredging up this 2007-08 story.

And maybe if this discussion thread has a lot of entries – some discussion about gambling as good or bad – if it is somehow controlled and integrity of the game maintained.
1. It is no secret that the most popular sports – real football, American style football, basketball pro and NAACP, hockey all have grown as sports due to the popularity of gambling on the games and seasons. Tennis – seriously – would get another huge boost if it becomes a mecca for casual fans into some gambling on the side.
2. Not unsurprising, Djokovic had a mature take on this that went well past “Just say no!” A gambling company is an AO sponsor. The London and Las Vegas bookies have paid media advertising and rake in huge money off tennis…playing off the brand, the players image, exciting rivalries. And none of that substantial money is going to pro tennis and the players. He calls it a borderline matter – important – but arguments for and against recognizing risk and loss of revenue..


RZ Says:

The timing was definitely deliberate to get more attention. If they held it after a major tournament, they wouldn’t have gotten as much press and they know that.


sienna Says:

lets talk match fixing?
better write this article in slavic language.


Okiegal Says:

Match fixing……Desperate people do desperate
things?? Would this not be hard to prove? Well, on second thought it would be easy to prove. There are records of every phone call and records for texts….which are transcribed by the cell companies…..unless burner phones were used. The computer E-mails are definitely retrievable. Would the two players involved be in contact with each or are there several middle men or go betweens? Curious how this would be pulled off. These are probably dumb questions but I am not very good at figuring out how to commit a crime.
Computer hard drives and pings off of cell phone
towers can pin point exactly where the call was made…..cell phones and retrieved computer data have solved lots of crimes. I’ve heard of computers being under water and the data was still able to be retrieved. I watch entirely too many Investigative Discovery programs…..think I could be a detective……


Ben Pronin Says:

The belief is that match fixing ties to mafias. So if a player is threatened with violence to throw a match, are we really supposed to say they’re corrupt and should be banned from the tour?


Wog Boy Says:

Could it be something to do with “William Hill” the world’s largest online betting company that is one of the major sponsors of AO, started from this year. When you watch next match check that new digital screen all around the court, you eill see “William Hill” add sll over it every now and then, and all over Melbourne park, on the TV, newspapers everywhere. Maybe somebody missed out and this is the revenge:)


Ben Pronin Says:

Betting sites don’t benefit from match fixing.


Wog Boy Says:

The biggest betting syndicates are in SE Asia, namely Malaysia, you people are watching to much of the old movie, about mafia and bad Russians..


Wog Boy Says:

Yes BP,
But you can do the damage to certain betting sites by doing this and the timing is right, besides, it doesn’t look good, for ordinary people, when betting site is major sponsor of major sport event.


bklyn Says:

It is believable that players are targeted and threatened. This is the “sport” that allowed Russia to use a Putin-crony and alleged mobster as its Davis Cup coach. It is wrong to focus on it being the only or predominant reason for match fixing.

Yesterday, the bbc interviewed a retired player about match fixing. The interview is available online on the bbc worldservice. The player argued that it’s prevelent largely due to the income inequality in professional tennis. The ATP conducts itself as a business, yet it calls itself a sport. It needs to define itself as one or the other. How is it the easy take when a player cannot earn enough money to stay in the sport or not earn enough to be able to have a decent retirement fund? Are the top players at the top only due to talent? No, access to money plays a part.
The player mentioned the atp has a retirement pool. While Roger Federer is putting money into the pool for your retirement, a low-ranked, broke player is putting money into the same pool for Roger Federer’s retirement.

The retired player, who used an anonymous name, called out the top players and ATP who are all “OMG GET THE CHEATERS” in front of the press. When away from the media, these players could care less about this issue. because it doesn’t impact them. Is it fair that Federer, who had enough money for a few lifetimes, calls out a low-ranked player, who fixes a match because he needs the money to live? Is it fair when a well-paid tennis official or a association who creates the situation does the same?

Until the top players and TPTB deal with even out the money and other perks available only to top players, both groups are allowing match fixing to continue.


jane Says:

agree on the timing, cf1. it’s sensationalist. it’s also very potentially damaging to make insinuations with no proof. get specific or go home. enough with the clickbait allegations and yellow journalism.

limiting the insinuations to “evil” italians and russians seems too narrow as well. i’m sure people from all over the world are involved – maybe even BBC or buzzfeed employees, lol ;) – if it’s going on, or has gone on in the past.


Wog Boy Says:

the biggest irony is that advertising alcohol drinks and tobacco is banned on any sport event in Australia (probably in the other countries too) but yet betting is encouraged and advertised everywhere with a cynical small print “gamble responsible and call this hotline if you need help”.
What is less harmful to have a nice drink (or two) even cigarette after good meal or something else good (I stoped smoking 25 years ago but didn’t stop…) or to lose your money and your family is suffering due to your gambling addiction.


bklyn Says:

JaneIt is not sensationalist or yellow journalism. The bbc and buzzfeed presented the story and made public the methodology, along with the codes, used to get the list. That website is using that standard methodology to publish names.

We are are seeing a rarity in professional tennis– ACTUAL reporting.

from the bbc:
“The BBC and Buzzfeed were also passed the names of other current players the TIU have repeatedly been warned about by betting organisations, sports integrity units and professional gamblers.”

WogBoy: Gambling is not harmful to your physical health.


Chrisford1 Says:

Wog – What does Jacob’s Creek, adverts everywhere, sell, soda pop??
Also seen Fosters Ads. And Greg Norman winery ads. Do they make alcohol free products as well?


Wog Boy Says:

CF1,
I am not sure you can see Jacob’s Creek inside Arena or any sports venues, outside yes, they even have their bar since they are sponsors. I don’t know where have you seen Fosters add, definitely not here at AO or any other sport event in Australia or venues, or on the streets or TV. If you pay any attention, when they mention Jacob’s Creek, I don’t like their wines anyway, they never talk or specifying wines or their prouducts.
About Fosters, never took off in Australia, nor you will see people drinking it here, it is far more popular overseas, besides it is not Australian anymore anyway, that British company bought them out, maybe that is why is so heavily advertised overseas, definitely not good beer, Australia has loads of much better beer.


Wog Boy Says:

CF1,
Yes, I just saw Jacob’s Creek in RLA, but without saying “wines” or what there products are, only the name of the company, so I guess one of the way to bypass the law;)


Wog Boy Says:

If you are watching now, as I am watching Ana in RLA, you will see Jacob’s Creek behind serve speed clock, only the name, in two languages, second one is in Chinese, since Asia is targeted market, but no any mention of alcohol drinks or products.


jane Says:

sean, i have now read that british parliament is getting involved. seems kinda weird. but anyhow, under that article at tennis.com, here’s a logical comment from “David_63″:

“I think we should be careful about accusing players of match-fixing based on unexpected results, or irregular betting patterns.

Tennis is not an easy sport to handicap accurately, because there isn’t much that separates a top-ten player from anyone in the top 100 or 200.

There are subtle factors like temporary injuries, some of which are known and some of which are kept secret.

And gamblers may pour in large or unusual bets based on information they have, or think they have; it doesn’t necessarily mean that the players involved knew anything about the betting.

It is even possible that the players know nothing of any “fix”, but members of their team/entourage are approached by gamblers for “inside information.”

There is a reason that baseball aggressively removed all gambling from anywhere near the game; once you let gamblers close to the game they will always develop new angles to try and find an advantage.”


Wog Boy Says:

Jane,
Very accurate comment by “David-63″, thanks for that.


jane Says:

you’re welcome, wog boy


Sean Randall Says:

Chrisford, yes, the timing is an unfortunate aspect. They could have released this a month ago but obviously waited until the tennis world was back in one place to get the biggest bang.

Who benefits? The whistleblowers feel better about themselves for sticking it to the TIU. And maybe in the long run tennis does.

Wog Boy, yup, having Will Hill on the marquee doesn’t help matters. It’s quite confusing really.

Jane, the problem with tennis is you can win with just ONE player. You don’t need both. This is important. Further, you can bet on points, sets, games. etc.

Imagine I go to a player and threaten them. I tell that player, drop your very first service game of the match or else. And I will give you $20K. That’s all it takes. Thanks to the diversity in betting there are so many options. Too many options.


sienna Says:

trying desperately to defend a young mans mistakes.
His relatives had bad /hoodlum connection with italian/slavic/russian maffia. So he was asked/told to lose a few matches in order for them to pickup some money.

I mean people interacting with those declaring the new King…..


Sarah Says:

Good morning to you all,

Sorry for the Verdasco fans…but big Congrats to Dudi Sela :)…
I did not expect this results?

Sienna,

“His relatives had bad /hoodlum connection with italian/slavic/russian maffia. So he was asked/told to lose a few matches in order for them to pickup some money”….do you have proofs?..otherwise it is just the quotation of a frustrated person…


Margot Says:

Agree with yo all. Timing sucks.
Agree with jane re gambling too. And Sean. All too easy.


danica Says:

We should probably do some matchmaking (fixing) between Giles and Sienna. Seems like they would do great together :)


Sarah Says:

Hi Danica, I am starting to have some pity feelings for the 2 creatures, they must be very sad and frustrated persons…


Wog Boy Says:

danica,
Sienna is komsija..


danica Says:

Oh WB, then that explains it !
No wonder. Hate galore.


danica Says:

Sarah,
agreed. Something not wired properly. Or just enjoyment in trying to be meanies to others who support their idol’s opponent(s).


Sarah Says:

Danica, in order to be mean, you have to be frustrated, so that’s the problem.


Wog Boy Says:

This is what Fabrice Santoro had to say about Tuttosport allegations:
….
“I was never the best player in the world but I’d beaten 19 of the 23 best players in the world, and a week before I’d beaten American Andy Roddick, who was world number five,” Santoro, who was ranked 39 at the time, told BeIN Sports television.
…..
Here is the link:
http://tenplay.com.au/news/2016/01/21/santoro-rejects-claim-djokovic-threw-match


Django Says:

Wog boy and danica
Komsija lol


bojana Says:

Wog Boy,

She is komsija but could You tell from wich side of Serbia komsija?

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