In Belgium, police detained 13 people as part of a major international investigation into match-fixing in tennis. Yesterday’s arrests come after a report had warned of a tsunami of corruption in the lower levels of the sport.
Officers swooped on 21 addresses in Belgium, while simultaneous raids were launched on properties in the US, Germany, France, Bulgaria, Slovakia and the Netherlands. The raids were part of an international probe into an Armenian-Belgian criminal network suspected of bribing players to throw games.
Belgian prosecutors said the matches involved were on the low-level Futures and Challenger circuits, away from the gaze of television coverage and where meagre prize money leaves players susceptible to backhanders.
The prosecutors said the investigation showed that an Armenian-Belgian criminal organisation actively would have bribed professional tennis players from 2014 to the present day. Prosecutors said a Judge will decide what further action to take against the 13 who have been held.
The latest blow to tennis’s reputation comes as unseeded Italian Marco Cecchinato beat Novak Djokovic against all odds in the French Open quarter-final stage at Roland Garros yesterday.
Cecchinato was himself embroiled in a match-fixing scandal on the Challenger circuit, earning an 18-month suspension in July 2016 before being cleared of any wrongdoing.