When the first tennis Grand Slam tournament of 2016 kicked off in Australia, the world has received a shocking news. It has been disclosed that 16 players in the top 50 have been flagged to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) over match fixing scandals in the last decade. Out of which, 8 players are playing in this year’s Australian Open.
A joint investigation between BBC and Buzzfeed shows this result. In a statement published late Sunday showed that anonymous sources have provided them with a ‘cache of documents’. These documents revealed “widespread suspected match fixing at the top level of world tennis, including those at Wimbledon.” The date goes as far as 2007.
The concern arises now because, according to the report, tennis authorities did not progress with the investigation and showed no interest whatsoever.
Of course, such allegations involving top tennis players are extremely grave. The head of TIU, Nigel Willerton said, “All credible information received by the TIU is analysed, assessed and investigated by highly experienced former law enforcement investigators.”
One of the investigators back in 2007, Mark Phillips said, “There was a core of about 10 players who we believed were the most common perpetrators that were at the root of the problem.”
With the blaming of how tennis authorities did not progress further with the investigation, the ATP President, Chris Kermode, denied all allegations.
“The Tennis Integrity Unit and the tennis authorities absolutely reject any suggestion that evidence of match fixing has been suppressed for any reason or isn’t being thoroughly investigated.”
“It is simply not true that we are sitting on evidence. What happens is that information and intelligence are given to the Tennis Integrity Unit and they then have to turn into evidence.” He further added, “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.”
BBC and Buzzfeed refused to name the players under investigation.
Meanwhile, world number 1 Novak Djokovic disclosed that in 2007, he was approached to throw a first round match in St Petersburg.
“I was not approached directly. I was approached through people that were working with me at that time,” he told the reporters in Melbourne after his first match against South Korea’s Chung Hyeon. He further said, “The approach made me feel terrible because I don’t want to be anyhow linked to this kind of thing. I think there is no room for it in any sport, especially in tennis.”
“In the last six, seven years, I haven’t heard anything similar. I personally was never approached directly, so I have nothing more to say about that.”
It was revealed that the Serbian was offered $200,000 to lose that match. On top of this, world number 2, Andy Murray voiced his concerns on this matter and believes that players may be involved in match fixing. On a live radio program, Murray said, “It doesn’t really surprise me. Some guys have to come to tournaments like this every single week and the first-round loser’s cheque is only 2,500 (£1,700) and they have got to pay their air fares and it’s only a 10- or 12-year career so you have to make all your money while you’re still paying.” He, on Monday morning, went on to tweet on this regard.
It is now to see what steps will be taken next. This is just the start of the tennis season, and a whole year lays ahead. If further investigation proves that TIU’s report is correct, it will be one of the biggest scandals in the sporting world.
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