Tennis is now the latest sport in the spotlight, following allegations in an investigation by the BBC and BuzzFeed, of a match-fixing and gambling scandal involving a core group of 16 players, all of whom have ranked in the top 50 in the world. Some of these players are currently competing in the Australian Open championship. This investigation has put the tennis authorities, and the ‘Tennis Integrity Unit’ in the firing line, and as you would expect they deny that they have failed to act in the face of allegations of corruption.
Yet the truth is that in tennis, and most other major sports, only a small amount of resource is invested in fighting corruption. They are simply no match for the organised crime gangs, international gambling syndicates, and greedy dishonest officials. Sports governance has become a wild west, but we need more than a lone ranger to combat it.
Sports leaders have simply not invested enough in protecting the integrity of their competitions. Sadly, the members of these ruling executives seem typically to fall into three broad categories when it comes to corruption. Firstly, the blissfully ignorant who ask no questions, secondly those who know there is a problem but don’t know what to do about it, and finally the wrongdoers themselves. There are a few noble exceptions who try to lobby within their sport for more resources and action against criminality, but they often end up resigning in disgust.