Dutch athlete reveals match fixing ring in professional tennis
At least ten international professional tennis players, including four Dutch players, regularly work with a match fixer for some extra income, a young Dutch professional tennis player said in the NOS podcast Gefixt. The player, who asked to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, found out about this match fixing ring through is doubles partner two years ago.
The Dutch player shared a hotel room abroad with his doubles partner, another Dutch player, two years ago. "We talked about how he pays for tennis, because it is quite an expensive sport. You have to pay for almost everything yourself: the travel, your hotel, sometimes a trainer and the training location," the player said.
It was then that the topic of matchfixing came up, the Dutch player said to NOS. His doubles partner had a second phone, with which he sent messages to an unknown person, informing them that he was going to lose a certain match or set in exchange for a few thousand euros, the Dutch player said. "I was quite surprised. I knew it happened in the sport and sometimes you have suspicions, but in principle you do not assume that someone is selling their matches."
He now knows of at least ten players from France, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands who works with this match fixer. The Dutch player hasn't told the authorities about this. Partly because his doubles partner is his friend, and also because he is worried about consequences for himself. "If you report something, they will also investigate you yourself. You have to hand in your phone and such. I would never do that. I have also sometimes gambled on tennis matches because I found it fun. And they'll find that," he said. That could result in a fine and suspension for him. The fact that he did not report the match fixing earlier could also count against him.
Public Prosecutor Anne de Leeuw is not surprised by the tennis player's story, she said to NOS. "Being a top tennis player costs so much that it is almost a risk factor for match fixing," she said. "In the Netherlands we have dozens of professional tennis players, but there are only a few who can really earn a good living from that. For the rest it is hard work and costs a lot of money. So the danger lurks more quickly when you can create an alternative revenue model for yourself to be able to continue practicing your sport."
The Dutch tennis association KNLTB said it is shocked by the tennis player's account. "This shows that the threat of match fixing is very real," the association said to NOS. The KNLTB is is mainly concerned about low-ranking players' financial vulnerability and wants to push for a different remuneration system. "We also notice that the willingness to report is low among players. That is why we have set up an anonymous reporting system, where this tennis player can also tell his story without danger." That report will then be passed on to the International Tennis Integrity Agency.