Tennis is plagued by 'significant' corruption, report warns

Shafi Musaddique; Reporter
Key Points
  • Match-fixing endemic across low-level tennis
  • No evidence of 'institutional corruption' from governing bodies
  • Low cash prizes and high costs of participation push players into agreeing to fix matches
Xavier Bonilla/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Tennis is plagued by "significant" corruption across the world, an investigation has warned.

Match-fixing is endemic across lower-levels of the sport, but there is no evidence that elite tennis players take part, the Independent Review Panel (IRP) that conducted the review said.

However, it added that while there was no widespread problem at the top of professional tennis, it had "evidence of some issues" at Grand Slams and Tours that could dent the integrity of the sport.

In a survey of over 3,200 tennis players, 464 said they had direct experience or knowledge of match-fixing.

Men's games in lower level tennis were deemed to be the most suspicious by the panel.

"The imbalance between prize money and costs is foremost among the several circumstances that render professional tennis vulnerable to breaches of integrity," the report said.

While the world's top 150 ranked players can earn enough money to make a living through professional tennis, the vast majority are "unable to make a living through competition."

This, the report notes, is a major factor in pushing tennis players to agree to match fixing.

Of 15,000 registered professional tennis players, the majority are only funded by family and donations.

Playing professional tennis costs on average $38,800 for men and $40,180 for women. However, top prizes in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) circuit events range between $15,000 and $25,000.

The report's authors also found evidence of a "match-fixing season" that takes place in ITF games between October and December. Ending sponsorship by gambling firms in tennis was also recommended.

Global professional tennis organizations ATP, WTA, ITF and the Grand Slam Board have all agreed in principle with the findings and will put in place recommendations suggested by the report.

They also welcomed the report's statement that there is no evidence of "institutional corruption" in governing bodies.