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Latest Integrity Question - Umpires in Futures Matches

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Post by barrystar Tue 09 Feb 2016, 2:04 pm

The Guardian is running a report today to the effect that the ITF has banned Umpires of futures matches for taking part in gambling scams, but kept quiet about it.  The scams arise out of the fact that in Futures matches the Umpire's duties include logging the score immediately on the IPAD provided, and the scores are then reported to a body which has paid the ITF £70m for the ability to broadcast live scores which are used for betting websites.  The banned Umpires were delaying logging the scores, thus giving an advantage to those watching the matches (otherwise not televised or reported) to make bets before the odds shifted in response to the outcome of key points - in at least one case the umpire was texting the gambler before logging the score.

In one sense this is arguably not as serious as at first it looks - the Umpire is not seeking to affect the outcome of the match, he/she is not calling faults to produce given scores or unfairly applying rules about time between points &c..

However, in another sense it is incredibly serious.  Any corruption on the part of a match official is deeply concerning - that there are officials who would contemplate such a large step onto the slippery slope is not to be sniffed at, they are obviously not to be trusted to act fairly.  Any sport genuinely concerned to stamp out corruption does not hide away the existence of cases when it has successfully caught and punished cheats, it publicizes those cases and accepts the short-term reputational risk.  To let these stories emerge in this way creates the impression that the tennis authorities are more concerned with presenting a corruption-free image than genuinely stamping out corruption.

It also begs the question what the sport would do, for example, if there were evidence that someone enormously popular was cheating; whether concern about the image of the sport could mean that, say, Federer might be treated differently to someone less popular?  Agassi's crystal meths story gives one little confidence in that respect - yes, it wasn't strictly performance enhancing, but that's hardly the point - or you scrap the rule.

As with match fixing, it is likely that corruption of this sort is more prevalent at the less lucrative end of the sport and less of a problem in the popular end - but the powers that be are doing a fine job of allowing themselves to be portrayed as more concerned about image and advertising income than out and out integrity.  They are on 'strike two' and need to show clear blue water between themselves and the likes of FIFA or, worse, the IAAF.
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Post by Henman Bill Tue 09 Feb 2016, 6:22 pm

When we consider PED accusations, oxygen/egg chambers, gambling scandals and anything else, we have to question at what point the line has been crossed. How long can we give "benefit of the doubt".."no proof"..."innocent until proven guilty" type comments before we finally have to accept that tennis is a dirty sport? Are we in that territory already? Do we need to stop watching it or not take it seriously in the same way we might with athletics and swimming?

I think it's becoming increasingly clear that on the balance of probabilities there are at least some cases where silent conspiracies are preferred to honest investigations and that the tennis authorities themselves can no longer be trusted.

As a counterpoint, we do need to keep in mind the way the media works. Once the first scandals break, the media is then desperate to add to them, and suddenly paying attention, and investigating more, and wanting to push a line of connected stories leading to tennis in crisis. Even if "tennis in crisis" were an exaggeration at this point, the media will lap it up.

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Post by Henman Bill Tue 09 Feb 2016, 6:27 pm

The bookmakers themselves are a little complicit in allowing live in play betting and betting on points and games in order to drive faster turnover.

If the bookies refused to accept bets on single points or single games, and shut down betting on the outcome of the match in certain situations (potentially decisive tiebreak, serving for match) then this kind of thing could be reduced. But the bookmaker is a company trying to make a profit and what I suggest means they lose money, so it's never going to happen.

And betting is too international for law makers to get involve, and not important enough to warrant some kind of international agreement when there are more important things in the world.

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Post by socal1976 Tue 09 Feb 2016, 6:37 pm

Well, here is the problem I have about basing the determination of tennis' integrity on the media. The media nowadays is so large and diverse that information in an unfiltered and checked manner gets flooded to the masses in waves like never before. This is both good and bad. The media misses huge issues and also makes mountains out of nothing. Most of the American media was convinced that the Iraq had WMDS. Most of the media was also convinced at one time that owning and selling black people was wonderful. The Guardian's historical black mark of treating Lincoln and the Union like self interested baboons was so bad that they had to write up justifying their position 150 years later. So there are massive books filled up with things the media has got wrong. Also since controls now on the media are much less and the channels much larger any bumhole can make up and say anything and get it out there, and the richer that bumhole is the louder he can say it.

Tennis I am sure has corruption involved like any large scale enterprise. Thank god for Hawkeye so we don't have this concern at all really at the highest levels of the game. But this happens in almost all sports. You can not find a sport not touched by corruption, gambling, peds, and other types of scandals. It is the nature of the world like going to some third world countries and being asked for bribes, you oppose it. You don't get complacent, but you realize realistically that a certain amount this stuff will always happen. Don't think Tennis is any different than a dozen other sports. At least our sport doesn't cause like 98 percent of its participants to have brain damage and high double digit concussions.

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