Tennis is engulfed in a ‘tsunami’ of corruption…
Ouch, how do you sort this one out? It is pretty devastating to hear that about the sport I have dedicated my life to, but I’m not surprised.
A match where the players stand to lose money, even if they win, cannot be bet on. It is wholly unfair on the players who end up being out there grinding, fighting, losing and making a lot of people a lot of money.
Apparently players on the ITF circuit make the ITF around £10m a year from their matches being sold (source: The Telegraph), Sportradar must be cashing in if they are willing to spend that sort of money buying the rights, and the gamblers at home stand to make thousands as well as enjoying a few hours of entertainment.
What about the players? Dealing with a relentless barrage of abuse on social media from angry gamblers, picking up a cheque for $200 after a tough loss with an $800 flight to catch while plenty of people profit. There is no support for players receiving this constant abuse, it is something all players just have to deal with now.
The ITF have announced a new transition tour with no professional points available for players they do not believe are good enough to call themselves professional tennis players, 750 is the new cut there, and yet these are the players and matches that they have been selling for years. I do agree with what the ITF are trying to achieve with the transition tour and I am pleased they are willing to try something new, but they just should not be making money from betting on this level.
It is worth clarifying that the ITF do not put up the prize money for these tournaments, that money comes from whoever wants to put the tournament on, the LTA find the cash for the tournaments in the UK as well as paying for courts, umpires, balls, water etc. The recent increase in prize money at the lower levels did not come from the £10m these tournaments have been making the ITF, or from the ITF at all.
Will they sell the rights to the Transition Tour where no professional points are on offer? How about Junior Grand Slams where no money is available? What is the £10m spent on each year?
For the bulk of my career I just got on with it, you were out there on your own and nobody cared, but when I returned to the circuit in 2014 I felt disrespected. This time we had live betting everywhere. One of my matches was interrupted 3 times to sort out the handheld electronic scorecard, as I protested the referee told me we could not continue until it was fixed as “people would have bet on this match and it is worth too much money”. I lost that match after taking an early lead, turned my phone on to a barrage of death threats and picked up my $420 in prize money. Knowing that I had made people money or entertained them for a couple of hours, I felt that my time had been disrespected and used, but hey I’m just a player.
I am not defending anyone who has ever been involved in match fixing, it is disgraceful and we need to get rid of it but this situation cannot continue.
The ITF do so many wonderful things globally within the world of Tennis, and it is their drive that has made tennis a truly global sport, but they have got this one wrong. It has been unfair for some time now and I hope they act on some of the suggestions the Independent Review Panel made and get rid of betting at the lower levels.