Law enforcement officials in Spain have arrested 28 professional tennis players in an investigation into match-fixing.
EU police agency Europol said the players were among 83 people detained by Spain’s Civil Guard.
“The suspects bribed professional players to guarantee predetermined results and used the identities of thousands of citizens to bet on the pre-arranged games,” Europol said.
At least 97 ITF Futures and Challenger matches were fixed, it said.
The arrests, which included one player who appeared at last year’s US Open, follow an investigation into match-fixing by an organised Armenian criminal gang.
Europol said 11 house searches had been carried out in Spain in which 167,000 euros (£151,000) in cash were seized, along with a shotgun, more than 50 electronic devices, credit cards, five luxury vehicles and documentation related to the case.
Forty-two bank accounts have also been frozen.
None of the arrested people has been named.
“A criminal group of Armenian individuals used a professional tennis player, who acted as the link between the gang and the rest of the criminal group,” Europol said in a statement.
“Once they bribed the players, the Armenian network members attended the matches to ensure that the tennis players complied with what was previously agreed, and gave orders to other members of the group to go ahead with the bets placed at national and international level.”
The investigation started in 2017 after the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) grew concerned about “irregular activities” relating to pre-arranged matches in the tournaments, Europol added.
A joint BBC and BuzzFeed News investigation uncovered suspected illegal betting on tennis matches in January 2016.
Last month a final report into corruption in tennis by the Independent Review Panel said there should be no live streaming, or scoring data provided, at the lowest tier of professional tennis.
The ITF Futures and Challenger tournaments are below the top-tier ATP and WTA Tours.
The International Tennis Federation estimates there are 14,000 players trying to make a living from the sport, half of whom do not make any money at all.
Original article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/tennis/46822784