BLOG: Match-fixing in tennis can no longer be ignored

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On the eve of the Australian Open, scandal and corruption was revealed as reports of match fixing were brought to light.

It was the news that shook the world of tennis. It was certainly unexpected from a tennis fan’s point of view, but then again no sport is safe from the burden of match fixing. It’s there but we choose to ignore it.

This is what the latest investigation looks like. The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) knew about the extent of its problems but chose to sweep them under the carpet and pretend they’re not there all in the name of the sport.

Protecting the reputation of tennis was more important than confronting the elephant in the room and now there will be regrets.

The BBC and Buzzfeed news uncovered the deepest and darkest secrets in tennis from a decade ago and even cases from 2015, involving elite players and the grand slams.

It is ironic that tennis is surrounded by betting sponsorships. In November the ITF, which puts on the Davis and Fed Cup, announced a three-year sponsorship deal with online betting company Betway and the Australian Open has sponsorship deals with William Hill. Both deals are now being rightly highly criticised.

But surely the TIU had all the intentions to eradicate betting scandals after the 2007 case that urged the creation of the unit.

In 2007, Nikolay Davydenko took on Martin Vassallo Arguelllo in a match, which was riddled with suspicion.

It was said that a group of Russians put millions on Arguello to win.

Davydenko was world number four at the time and should have breezed through the match, but retired part way through.

Other similar situations went on and also involving wealthy groups from Russia and Italy, offering huge sums to players directly.

Although the TIU had hired experienced investigators from British Horse Racing who flagged up suspicious matches, the TIU chose to ignore it and so the match fixing continued.

As this has come to light the top players are choosing to play down the allegations and saying that there is clearly not enough evidence. Guilty perhaps?

Of course tennis isn’t the first sport to be caught out for match fixing and there have been many extensive cases in other sports.

Eight players in the main draw of the Australian Open have been named in the reports.

A black cloud now hangs over the grand slam, but it can’t overshadow Andy Murray’s hopes of winning his first Australian Open.

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