Tennis
Marco Cecchinato

According to federal prosecutors, 13 people have been detained over an investigation into suspected match-fixing. This was said to be taking place in the lower ranks of professional tennis.

Apparently, a criminal organization with ties to Belgium and Armenia had been bribing professional tennis players. This had been happening since 2014 and the criminals would rake in profits by placing bets.

Most of the fixed matches were situated in the lower-ranked, rarely televised tournaments. For example, the Futures and Challenger circuits, where it was easier to bribe players, prosecutors said.

According to an independent report commissioned by the sport’s major bodies in April. The sport was facing “very significant” integrity problems as a result of a sharp increase in internet betting.

The Interim Report of the Independent Review of Integrity said its two-year investigation had not revealed widespread corruption at the top of the professional game. There was evidence of some issues at these levels, though the review panel’s chairman Adam Lewis said match fixing at the level of a Grand Slam tournament was “unlikely”.

The highest-ranked player to be embroiled in a match-fixing case is Italian Marco Cecchinato. He will be up against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in the quarter-final of the French Open.

In 2016, Cecchinato’s national federation found him guilty of placing a bet on himself. He was supposed to lose a match during a Moroccan Challenger event in 2015.

However, the Italian denied the claim and a playing ban against him was overturned. This move was facilitated by the Italian Olympic Committee because of irregularities regarding how the evidence was gathered.

In the Belgian case, investigators cooperated with counterparts in Germany, France, Bulgaria, Slovakia, the Netherlands and the United States.

A judge would decide at a later stage whether those detained would be formally arrested for their crimes.

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