Published: Sun, January 13, 2019
Sports | By Johanna Francis

Tennis match-fixing ring under Spanish police investigation

Tennis match-fixing ring under Spanish police investigation

The ring broken up by the Spanish police used stolen data of thousands of people to bet on various bookmaking platforms.

Some 80 people are being investigated by Spanish police over suspected tennis match-fixing (file picture).

Europol has alleged that a group of Armenians used one unnamed professional player as a link between them and the rest of the group.

The Civil Guard operation began "after a denouncement by the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), an global anti-corruption organization which is responsible for protecting integrity in the world of tennis".

Of the 83 people implicated in the case, 28 were professional tennis players including one, whose identity was not revealed, who competed at the 2018 US Open.

According to Europol, at least 97 matches from lower-tier Futures and Challenger tournaments were fixed.

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Match fixing has become a controversial issue in tennis, where elite players are handsomely paid but those in the lower echelons of the game can struggle to make ends meet.

One of those athletes competed at the US Open past year and the net is closing in on the Armenian criminal gang who organised the enterprise. Gang members attended the matches to ensure that the tennis players complied with what was previously agreed, and gave orders to other members of the group to go ahead with the bets placed at national and global level. Law enforcement began to investigate a Spanish player, which led to the Armenian group.

A total of 42 banks accounts have also been frozen during the operation.

Twenty-one individuals broke anti-corruption rules with the majority sanctioned for match-fixing or betting offences, while eight lifetime bans were imposed, most notably to Italian former world number 49 Daniele Bracciali for match-fixing and facilitating betting.

The report said there were around 14,000 notional professional players in 2018, but that only about 600 earned enough money to cover the annual cost of competing.

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