Professional tennis is facing a “tsunami” of integrity problems that could undermine the credibility of the entire sport. That’s the finding from a recent report by the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) that was commissioned in the hope of cleaning up some of professional tennis’ dirtier corners.
The report, which was commissioned after a report on Buzzfeed raised the specter of wide-scale match fixing in the lower levels of touring tennis players.
Costing nearly $ 28 million to produce, the report found that professional tennis is, indeed, rife with players whose desperate living conditions have forced them into tanking matches that are considered mandatory, but not particularly important. Along with that, there simply isn’t enough prize money floating around to support the number of professionals currently competing on the tour. That’s created a situation where low level players are spending more money simply competing in matches than they could ever hope to make if they actually won those same matches.
According to the report, that’s how the seeds of corruption are planted. “Only the top 250 to 350 players earn enough money to break even. Yet there are nominally 15,000 or so ‘professional’ players,” the report stated.
The situation of thousands of players competing for a small pool of prize money drives even very competitive players to throw a set here and there, even if they ultimately win the match.
So how can professional tennis stay ahead of this wave of corruption? The report suggest that the ATP host fewer mandatory tournaments to provide relief for struggling players. They also suggest that the organization stop selling live data to sportsbooks, in an effort to curb the enthusiasm for wagering on low level tournaments.
The TIU plans on issuing its final recommendation, based on the report and comments received on it, within two months.
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