34 Spa­niards de­tained in ten­nis match-fix­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Span­ish au­thor­i­ties have de­tained 34 peo­ple, in­clud­ing six ten­nis play­ers, in­volved in a ten­nis match-fix­ing net­work that made more than half-amil­lion dol­lars from lower-tier tour­na­ments in Spain and Por­tu­gal.

Po­lice said yes­ter­day that Op­er­a­tion Fu­tures probed sev­eral Fu­tures and Chal­lenger tour­na­ments in Ibe­ria for the past sev­eral months and found ev­i­dence that re­sults were rigged.

The ten­nis play­ers were not iden­ti­fied, but au­thor­i­ties said they were ranked be­tween 800 and 1,200 in the world. Their Span­ish rank­ings ranged be­tween 30 and 300.

Po­lice said they found ev­i­dence of match-fix­ing at­tempts in 17 men’s tour­na­ments in five cities, in­clud­ing Madrid, Seville and Porto.

Au­thor­i­ties said the two al­leged lead­ers of the net­work were among those de­tained across 12 Span­ish cities. The lead­ers were based in Seville and La Coruna. All those de­tained were Spa­niards and are ex­pected to re­main free pend­ing trial.

If con­victed of cor­rup­tion in sports, they could face prison sen­tences of up to four years.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan af­ter a tip given by a player to the Ten­nis In­tegrity Unit, the sport’s anti-cor­rup­tion body.

Au­thor­i­ties took the case for­ward af­ter notic­ing an un­usual amount of on­line bets re­lated to the sus­pected tour­na­ments.

The net­work al­legedly used in­stant-mes­sag­ing groups and so­cial me­dia to at­tract on­line bet­ters who would pay for the in­for­ma­tion about rigged re­sults.

The play­ers who ac­cepted par­tic­i­pat­ing in the scheme would re­ceive about $1,000 for each match. In some cases, they were asked to lose spe­cific points or games.

The net­work’s earn­ings in some of the tour­na­ments sur­passed $10,000.

The Chal­lenger tour­na­ments are sec­ond-tier events or­ga­nized by the ATP, while the Fu­tures are sin­gle-week com­pe­ti­tions or­gan­ised by the In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion of­fer­ing ei­ther $10,000 or $25,000 in prize money.

There were nearly 39 Fu­tures tour­na­ments in Spain this sea­son, and more than 10 in Por­tu­gal. Spain hosted Chal­lenger events in Sevilla and Se­govia.

Mag­nus Carlsen, of Nor­way, smiles as he looks at his cham­pi­onship tro­phy dur­ing the award cer­e­mony Photo: AP

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