An independent review panel tasked with evaluating corruption and match fixing in professional tennis, mostly in the lower levels of the sport, has finally released a report that essentially says there is a whole lot of corruption and match-fixing in professionl tennis, mostly in the lower levels of the sport. But just how much, you ask? From the 80-page report, which can be read in full here:
The Panel assesses the problem at those levels to be very significant. A TIU investigator described the extent of the problem at some lower level events as a “tsunami”.
A hearty pat on the back to whichever savvy investigator from the Tennis Integrity Unit decided to describe the match-fixing problem so evocatively—if so vaguely as to be useless—because here are the headlines about today’s long-awaited but ultimately not ground-breaking report: Review Finds ‘Tsunami’ of Fixed Matches in Lower Levels of Tennis from the New York Times; Tennis match-fixing: ‘Tsunami’ of corruption at lower levels says report wrote the BBC; ‘Tsunami’ of match-fixing in lower-level tennis: review panel, from the AFP, Tennis engulfed in ‘tsunami’ of match-fixing, says review, per the Irish Times; Tennis engulfed in a ‘tsunami’ of corruption and faces ‘serious integrity problem’, says independent report, from the Independent.
The Daily Mail’s headline was at least more informative, if also the longest: Corruption a ‘tsunami’ at lower levels of professional tennis with the game described as a ‘fertile breeding ground’ for match-fixing after report costing £15m is finally released.
The especially silly part of this is that the report specifies the number of matches expected to be fixed:
An experienced TIU investigator estimated that “hundreds of matches at Futures level (both singles and doubles) are not being played fairly, with the numbers reducing as you move upwards through the ranks of the professional game”.
Just before the 2016 Australian Open, the BBC and BuzzFeed published a report of wide-scale match-fixing and corruption in tennis, and alleging that tennis authorities suppressed evidence of it. In order to reassure fans that integrity in tennis was a top priority, the ATP, WTA, ITF and Grand Slam Board hired three prominent lawyers to head up an independent review of tennis, which according to the BBC, cost £20 million. Nearly two and a half years later, the panel has concluded that there is indeed match-fixing, exacerbated by partnerships with betting companies, but that they found no evidence to support that tennis authorities has been involved in a cover-up. The panel recommended that the ITF end its $70 million data-rights deal with the company Sportradar, which the panel says has “expanded the available markets for betting on the lowest levels of professional tennis.” There were 11 other less drastic recommendations, including that the TIU be reorganized with independent oversight.