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Tennis match-fixing scandal continues as 34, including players, arrested

The ring extends through both Spain and Portugal.

Following the revelations of match-fixing at Wimbledon uncovered by a BBC-Buzzfeed investigation earlier this year, a new fixing scandal has now emerged in Spain. Representatives for the country’s interior ministry have revealed that a match-fixing ring that extends through Portugal and Spain. 

A spokesperson for the interior ministry revealed six players were among those arrested, but declined to name or remotely identify those implicated. 

Speaking to international news agency AFP, a police representative revealed that players had been paid to throw, or arrange the losses, of as many as seventeen matches – with an estimated €500,000 earned by bookies. 

Police also added that players had been offered between €500 and  €1000 to throw matches, saying that bookies and fixers often went back on their word to these players, “promising  €5000 and paying  €50.” 

“It was the players, who were above all, the victims,” the spokesman said.

Although no names were revealed, the amounts at stake indicate the players are lower-ranked, likely outside the top 500 in the ATP rankings. 

In contrast, however, it was revaled that those involved in the fixing at Wimbledon included Grand Slam winners, none of whom saw any ATP action or sanctions. All of them continued to play, but the revelations at the time uncovered the fact that match-fixing had in fact been occuring at the uppermost levels of tennis, which has so far largely been considered among the cleanest sports through a history of murkiness that has seen cricket most significantly affected, with football also involved. 

At the time, an investigation by the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), details of which were uncovered by the BBC and Buzzfeed, said “at least 16 of the top-ranked 50 players” were involved directly or indirectly in match-fixing. 

Read more: Evidence of match-fixing uncovered at Wimbledon

The TIU was set up fairly recently, in 2007 following allegations of fixing by then World No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko at an ATP event in Sopot, Poland. Davydenko had been leading that match by a significant margin before suddenly losing; it was later found that the Russian was connected with a Russian betting syndicate. Although there was said to be substantial evidence at the time that match-fixing had occured, the TIU was not permitted to take retroactive action. 

Since this year’s investigations, former No. 1 Novak Djokovic came forward to reveal he had been offered US$200,000 to throw a match, with young Australian player Thanasi Kokkinakis also saying he had been approached. 

The TIU, which at the time had insisted tennis was clean, has yet to comment on the issue, but they will want to address it, especially given the fact that Spain has traditionall ybeen a tennis-rich country, and one that has consistently produced clay-court champions – among them former World No. 1s Rafael Nadal and Carlos Moya and 2016 French Open winner Garbine Muguruza. 

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