This year’s Australian Open was overshadowed by allegations on 16 players in the top 50 being involved in match-fixing. According to a joint investigation on Tennis match fixing by BBC and Buzzfeed, it is said that the investigation started after anonymous sources provided them with ‘cache of documents’. These documents opened up to allegations on ‘widespread suspected match fixing at the top level of world tennis, including those at Wimbledon.’ It was also stated that out of the 16 players, 8 were playing in the Australian Open.
In fact, one match on a mixed doubles first round was suspected of match-fixing.
One day after the first Grand Slam was over, former top Australian sports officials revealed fresh claims that matches are fixed every week, at all level of tennis, and all over the world. This expands the option for the international black markets to earn millions of dollars.
A Four Corners investigation is now dealing with the latest allegations.
“Suspect matches are happening multiple times every week across all levels of tennis right around the globe,” Richard Ings, former ATP executive and anti-doping head, told ABC reporters.
He said his reports were never opened. This happened in 2005 when he first notified the tennis authoritites.
According to Four Corners investigation, authorised bookmakers have a ‘secret blacklist’ that involves more than 350 professional tennis players, playing low-level tennis, were given the freedom to play ‘less than their best’. As per the report, more than 40 professional matches were flagged in 3 months last year. This number is quite alarming.
“I think match-fixing is a major part of tennis as we sit here and speak. I think it’s a major problem, I think it’s always been talked about as I was a young, sort of 18, 19-year-old junior coming through, trying to make ends meet,” said former tennis player Jay Salter to Four Corners.
Betting analyst Mark Phillips told Four Corners, “The betting patterns will show you when something corrupt is going on with that game, because the betting markets move in a particular way when the match is being played out normally and they will veer away from that pattern when the match is not being played in the normal manner.” He further added, “You’ll find that bookmakers’ trade rooms will have a list of players that they’re not happy about offering odds.”
“You know, they’ve … over the years they build up a database of players that they believe … You know, where betting patterns are particularly volatile with their matches and they’ve decided they’re not to offer markets on those players.”
As stated by Four Corners, these bets are based on bookmakers residing mostly in Asia. Malaysian high-roller Wei Seng ‘Paul’ Phua is the man behind ‘Maxbet’, Asian’s one of the biggest betting sites. He is also a valued client of Australia’s Crown Casino. According to FBI, Mr Phua is listed as a high ranked member of an Asian based crime network ’14K Triad’.
The match-fixing allegations have reached to a certain point where the officials are now expressing their concerns. During the Australian Open, Victoria Police have been actively involved in investigating any complains provided in regards to match-fixing.
“Corruption in sport is one of the fastest-growing organised crime types in the world at the moment. We know that they’re accepting bets roughly of about $2 billion every week,” Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson told the ABC.
“It’s estimated globally that the unregulated betting markets that operate across all sports are worth between $1 trillion and $3 trillion annually.”