28 pro tennis players implicated in Europol match fixing investigation

EU-wide crime agency Europol has reported that Spain’s Guardia Civil has arrested 83 individuals in connection to a criminal syndicate manipulating professional tennis competitions/matches.

Publishing its report, Europol details that 28 professional tennis players are implicated in the ongoing investigation, with Europol revealing that one player had played at the last US Open Grand Slam tournament.

The investigation, which began in 2017, was initially triggered by the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) who had reported irregular wagering activities on matches played at ‘ITF Futures and Challenger’ level tournaments.

The criminal group is reported to have bribed registered professional tennis players, seeking to guarantee predetermined results. Once bribed the syndicate would then utilise thousands of citizens to wager on the fixed matches.

“A criminal group of Armenian individuals used a professional tennis player, who acted as the link between the gang and the rest of the criminal group,” said Europol.

“Once they bribed the players, the Armenian network 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 international level.”

As an EU-wide agency, Europol supported the investigation in which criminal activity took place in a number of jurisdictions. Europol supported Spanish police forces with data analysis, suspect verifications, forensic support and real-time cross-checking capacities.

The tennis corruption arrests follow this December’s publication by the sport’s Independent Review Panel – IRP’ on combatting betting related integrity issues.

Headed up by leading UK sports QC Adam Lewis, the IRP has recommended that tennis’ governing bodies restructure the sports operational frameworks with regards to ranking systems, professional athlete accreditations, tournament set-ups, prize pools and education programmes.

At a betting-level, the IRP demands that tennis discontinue the supply of match data on ITF World Tennis (WTT) tournaments which in 2019 will takeover the former ITF Futures and Challenger $15-25,000 range tournaments.

Furthermore, Lewis and the IRP has called for the TUI to gain the immediate capabilities to suspend or disrupt tennis events/matches deemed to be corrupted or in use of unofficial data of pro sanctioned tennis tournaments.