Spanish police make widespread arrests after tennis match-fixing investigation

Of the 83 people implicated in the case, 28 were professional tennis players

There are 28 professional tennis players implicated in a Spanish police investigation into match-fixing. Photograph: Marc Atkins/Mark Leech/Getty Images

There are 28 professional tennis players implicated in a Spanish police investigation into match-fixing. Photograph: Marc Atkins/Mark Leech/Getty Images

 

The Spanish Civil Guard has made widespread arrests following an investigation into tennis match-fixing by an organised Armenian criminal gang, the European Union’s Europol agency said on Thursday.

Eleven house searches were carried out in Spain and €167,000 in cash were seized, along with a shotgun, more than 50 electronic devices, credit cards, five luxury vehicles and documentation related to the case. Forty-two bank accounts have been frozen.

The Civil Guard said in a statement 15 people had been arrested, including the leaders of the criminal organisation, while a further 68 people have been investigated. Of the 83 people implicated in the case, 28 were professional tennis players, playing in the ITF Futures and Challenger categories, and one whose identity was not revealed competed in the 2018 US Open.

“Our officers have proved the group had been operating since February 2017 and estimate that they had earned millions of euros through the operation,” added the Civil Guard’s statement.

News of the arrests came a day after the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) revealed that in 2018 more tennis players were disciplined for violations of anti-corruption rules than in any other year since the body’s creation. 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.

An independent review panel, set up by the sport’s four governing organisations, the ATP, WTA, ITF and Grand Slam Board, last month published a report into the threat of match-fixing in the sport. It described the current tennis environment as “a lamentably fertile breeding ground for breaches of integrity”, in particular the lowest rungs of the professional game.

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. Of the 400 match specific alerts flagged up by betting organisations to the TIU in 2018, 91 per cent were generated at the lowest and mid-levels of the sport where prizemoney is minimal compared to what is on offer on the main Tours.

“The imbalance between prize money and the cost of competing places players in an invidious position by tempting them to contrive matches for financial reward,” the report said.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.