Corruption in sports

Recently, Buzzfeed News and the British Broadcasting Corporation released articles about the possible fixing of tennis matches at the highest level of the game, including at Wimbledon.

With the Australian Open in full swing, one of the sports’ four major Grand Slam tournaments, the subject is a hot topic that has shaken the core of the tennis world.

According to an article by Simon Cox of the BBC, “Over the last decade, 16 players who have ranked in the top 50 have been repeatedly flagged to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) over suspicions they have thrown matches.”

According to the same article, investigations by Buzzfeed and BBC cite matches as far back as 2003, and possibly involve “betting syndicates” from Russia, Northern Italy and Sicily.

Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 player in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) world rankings and a 10-time Grand Slam winner recently came out to say that he was offered $200,000 to lose a first-round match of the St. Petersburg Open in 2007. Djokovic said he declined the offer, and he ultimately never even played in the tournament.

Djokovic said, “From my knowledge and information about match-fixing, there is nothing happening at the top level, as far as I know,” according to the article by BBC.

Chris Kermode, the head of the ATP, said that the TIU has won 18 convictions, including six life bans since the TIU was set up in 2008. Most of these violations occurred at the lower levels of tennis. Some believe that the low earnings for players that don’t rank in the top portion of the ATP rankings may lead to them accepting bribes and ultimately fixing matches.

Russell Fuller, a BBC tennis correspondent, said, “Only one of those [convicted] players has ever reached the top 200, and there are clearly temptations for lower-ranked professionals. Players outside the top 200 are unlikely to earn much more than £40,000 in prize money each year, and that is before coaching, travel and hotel expenses are taken into account.”

The article also mentions that an examination of 26,000 matches were presented in 2007, but no action was taken.

Nigel Willerton, head of the TIU said, “All credible information received by the TIU is analyzed, assessed and investigated by highly experienced former law-enforcement investigators.”

Whether or not these allegations of match fixing are true or not, one thing is apparent, there is no lack of corruption in sports.

Just last year, the FBI released charges against 14 defendants involved in the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) for racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies, according to an article by the BBC.

According to the same article, “The US indictment alleges that US and South American sports marketing executives paid and agreed to pay ‘Well over $150 million’ in bribes and other illegal payments to obtain lucrative media and marketing rights to international football tournaments.”

Among these tournaments was the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where US prosecutors say a bribe of $10 million was accepted to secure the location of the World Cup in South Africa.

Evidence of sports corruption has manifested itself not just in tennis and soccer.

The use of performance enhancing drugs in sports such as baseball and football has been an ongoing problem.

Just recently, the University of Louisville basketball team was allegedly providing money for players and recruits to participate in parties at an on-campus dorm that was used to house athletes and other students. The parties reportedly included strippers and prostitutes that were paid thousands of dollars to party with the players.

These allegations were made by former escort Katina Powell, in her book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen.”

The list goes on. Corruption in sports is nothing new, but it definitely needs to be addressed.