Belgian Authorities breaks up tennis match-fixing ring
Belgian authorities say they have detained 13 people for questioning from raids linked to an investigation into match-fixing in professional tennis.
According to prosecutors, a criminal scheme, involving a suspected Belgian and Armenian organisation, has been in operation to bribe players to fix matches since 2014.
Criminals were able to earn substantial money by betting on the alleged fixed matches, the prosecutors added.
In what marks the latest match-fixing case within the sport, the 13 individuals have been arrested on suspicion of match-fixing, corruption, money laundering and participation in organised criminal activities.
They are all now set to appear in front of a judge, who will decide whether or not they should be prosecuted.
Belgian newspaper Le Soir reported that the matches involved were on the International Tennis Federation Futures circuit and the Association of Tennis Professionals Challenger tour.
These were targeted as players at this level of the game were easier to bribe, prosecutors allege.
Belgian authorities co-operated with Bulgarian, Dutch, French, German, Slovakian and United States counterparts when conducting the raids earlier today.
The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) is aware of and has supported Belgian police action taken in relation to alleged tennis match-fixing offences,” a statement from the TIU read.
“As this is a police matter the TIU will not be commenting further at this time.”
The news comes after an independent review panel report, published in April, warned tennis faced “very significant” integrity problems due to the levels of internet betting on the sport.
The report also recognised “vulnerabilities” in the sport, particularly in the lower ranks, where players do not earn anywhere near as much as the top professionals.
It found a “very significant” corruption problem at “lower and middle levels of the sport”.
The report also called for professional tennis to ban sponsorship from betting companies and gambling on lower-level matches.
The independent panel surveyed more than 3,200 players and found that 14.5 per cent indicated they had first-hand knowledge of match-fixing in the sport.
The review also pointed out that only 336 men and 253 women in world tennis broke even in prize money before coaching costs were taken into account.