Tennis match-fixing: eight players in Australian Open suspected!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
Match fixing is so common in cricket series that many would prefer to call cricket match-fix because no match is played without fixing its outcome and 100s etc for select batboys beforehand either by the teams themselves, by skippers, by cricket boards and the powerful and rich cricket mafia. In fact, field rules are made, pitches are prepared, and bowlers are selected in order to promote batboys for awards, rewards, money, advertisement endorsements.
Reports appearing once in a while and time and again revel the malice in sports like football and Tennis. Now a serious racket in tennis tournaments at the top level has hit the global sport media. A latest report says Tennis fixing racket has been widespread, including at Wimbledon. The issue returned to focus in November, when the International Tennis Federation, which runs the Davis Cup and the Federation Cup, announced a three-year sponsorship deal with Betway, one of the world’s largest online betting companies.
Eight of the players repeatedly flagged to the TIU over the past decade are due to play in the Australian Open.” There are concerns that because these allegations stretch over nearly a decade there has been a lack of willingness by tennis authorities to pursue investigations. While the numbers and recurring frequency of allegations are worrying, it appears most of the activity does not involve leading players in the game, although grand slam winners are alleged to be implicated.
On a day of extended drama and fevered speculation, Novak Djokovic spoke in depth for the first time about being offered $200,000 (£140,000) to fix a match 10 years ago and Roger Federer, the game’s most venerated player, called the latest allegations, “far-fetched”. In 2006 it was alleged he had been offered $200,000 to throw a first-round match in St Petersburg, a tournament he did not eventually attend (why?). “I was not approached directly,” he said. “Well … I was approached through people that were working with me at that time, that were with my team. Of course, we threw it away right away. It didn’t even get to me, the guy that was trying to talk to me, he didn’t even get to me directly. There was nothing out of it.
Pressed further, he went on to say: “It made me feel terrible because I don’t want to be anyhow linked to this. Somebody may call it an opportunity. For me, that’s an act of unsportsmanship, a crime in sport, honestly. I don’t support it. I think there is no room for it in any sport, especially in tennis.
Yet, Djokovic says there is no room for any match-fixing or corruption in our sport. We’re trying to keep it as clean as possible. We have, I think, a sport that has evolved, and have upgraded our programmes and authorities to deal with these particular cases. “I don’t think a shadow is cast over our sport. People are talking about names, guessing who these players are.
Tennis player Djokovic talks like cricketer who defends all match fixings by easily rejecting them.
Federer added an unusually angry voice to the story when he faced the media shortly after a routine win over the Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili. He was particularly upset by the claim that one of the players under suspicion was a grand slam champion and that eight players who have been investigated during the past decade are in the main draw here in Melbourne. The higher it goes, the more surprised I would be, no doubt about it. Not about people being approached, but just people doing it in general. I just think there’s no place at all for this kind of behavior in our sport. I have no sympathy for those people.
Though illegal, betting happens all across the world in all the sports. The players … need to make sure the integrity of the game is maintained because, without that, why do you come and watch this match tonight or any match? Because you just don’t know the outcome. Mafia spoil the betting by fixing the outcomes.
Djokovic and Serena Williams, the top-ranked players in the men’s and women’s game, were adamant there was no wrongdoing beyond minor incidents on the edges of the sport, and pointed out that no hard evidence had been produced.
This year for the first time the Australian Open has a gambling sponsor, William Hill, whose advertisements will appear in its three main arenas. In its media release announcing the partnership William Hill promoted its ability to offer in-play betting, and said it would “continue to push the boundaries” of what it could give customers.
Eight players under suspicion from past or current investigations into match-fixing in tennis are in the main draw of the 2016 Australian Open on January 18. Over the last decade 16 players who have ranked in the top 50 have been repeatedly flagged to the Tennis Integrity Unit over suspicions they have thrown matches.” The BBC and Buzzfeed have presented a “cache of documents” dating back to 2007 that expose widespread suspected match-fixing at the top level of world tennis, including at Wimbledon. Last year a British player Andy Murray won the title while other top players had just played, seemingly, to lose.
Nigel Willerton, who heads the TIU, responded: “All credible information received by the TIU is analyzed, assessed and investigated by highly experienced former law-enforcement investigators.” Mark Phillips, who was involved in the 2007 investigation, has gone on record for the first time, saying: “There was a core of about 10 players who we believed were the most common perpetrators that were at the root of the problem.”
When these concerns were originally aired, Andy Murray expressed his concern about match-fixing. Here in pursuit of his first Australian Open, he interrupted his preparation in Melbourne on Monday morning to tweet the Buzzfeed version of the story.
For most of the day, interest switched from the courts to the press conference room, where administrators and players were quizzed as if on a conveyor belt of suspicion and doubt. Marin Cilic, who won the US Open two years ago and progressed without fuss into the second round here by beating Thiemo de Bakker 6-7, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4, said he had never been asked to cooperate with match-fixers.
At times, the team managers or sport councils seems to fix the entire tournament by sharing the titles in all formats. In that agreement some country on special request gets a title.
Top players also decide who should have the title in a particular open tournament. In some places only a couple of top players participate and win the titles. While others just do not participate. That is also fixing in favor of some low number players.
It is a practice that top tennis players while playing against very weak players deliberately offer some points like 6-2; 6-3, when in reality the opponents would not have got even one point.
The ATP president, Chris Kermode, strongly denied that the TIU, which was set up as an independent body, was deliberately seeking to hide any suspected improprieties, saying he believed the threat of match-fixing in the sport remained at an “incredibly small level”. “There is a big difference here between information and intelligence as to evidence. Every single bit of information that the Tennis Integrity Unit receives is investigated properly.
The European Sports Security Association which says, “tennis attracts more suspicious gambling activity than other sports”.
The world No2 Andy Murray accused tennis of being “a little bit hypocritical” for allowing betting firms to sponsor tournaments and said he would not be surprised if players ranked in the top 50 were fixing matches. Murray defeated the 18-year-old German Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 in the first round of the Australian Open but questions after his win were dominated by the allegations of match-fixing in the sport.
Maria Sharapova, after beating Japan’s Nao Hibino in two quick sets, said she hoped players would not be tempted to fix matches, whatever their ranking or income. “Honestly, I really hope not,” she said. “To me the sport has always meant a lot more than money.
Governments and their intelligences not just promote fake sports and manufactured outcomes but also shield the sport fixers. When governments themselves support criminals and frauds, none can do literally anything. Most media outlets willingly to pamper sportsmen with huge photos equating them with gods, refuse talk about the match fixes and fake outcomes, because, maybe by talking about such immoral and illegal premises of sport events, they think they insult themselves. They, like the governments and intelligences, skillfully hide the illegal fixings. These people do not nurture or respect the sport’s values.
Sport is business not only for the mafia and sponsors, but even for some sportsmen and government that do business behind sports. India and Australia deal in FDI behind cricket series. They seem to sell even degrees and national awards.
The sources have a responsibility to name players involved in match fixing rackets so that tennis and other real sports could be saved. If they were really serious about dealing with this, then they really need to create an integrity unit with teeth. Cricket scenes cannot serve as model shows for real sports.