London: In tennis, players have been accused of getting involved in wide spread betting. Now the chances for investigating top players has increased.
According to an Italian prosecutor Roberto di Martino, ‘Top Players ‘ should also be investigated for match-fixing. He said more than two dozen top tennis players having links to betting circle should be brought in for investigation. Di Martino said their names have been found in the evidence obtained from gamblers suspected in match fixing. This includes the name of two players who rank among the world’s top 20 tennis players. So far two Italian players Potito Starace and Daniele Bracciali have been investigated and charged.
Di Martino says other players in the list should also be investigated. He told the BBC that tennis authorities should be doing more with the evidence available to them. He said surely if all these foreign players were Italian, they would certainly have been questioned and they should have provided some explanation for this act.
Di Martino has been inquiring suspected Italian players and gamblers involved in match fixing for the past two years during which he gathered evidence of internet chat logs and recording of phone calls made between them.
He said more than two dozen non-Italian players were mentioned by the gamblers and we are certain that these players would be investigated by the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU). He refused to disclose the identity of players mentioned in the evidence and said interestingly they are not second-tier players but are players who carry some importance. Italian players Potito Starace and Bracciali have been accused of being involved in fixing matches between 2007 and 2011 for up to 50,000 euros.
They are expected to appear in court in May and deny charges of being involved to commit sports fraud. Di Martino claims he has concrete evidence regarding Starace involvement in two separate matches played in Barcelona in 2009 and 2011. He suspects there are 30 other matches that may have been corrupted by a number of players played at events like Wimbledon and the French Open.
All these names are present in Di Martino’s investigation files. Sources close to the inquiry said two of these players had been mentioned in an internet chat log between two gamblers, it might be possible they were under control of the gamblers. These chat logs were among hundreds of files sent by the prosecutor to TIU three months ago. Di Martino said TIU investigators came to him and made it clear that they were exclusively interested in the Italian players. Up till now only two Italian players Potito Starace and Bracciali have been charged after investigations. They said ” the international aspect is of greater significance than a situation involving a few Italian players.” as this would possibly identify and grip many non Italian players who are definitely a part of this crime.
Di Martino criticized the TIU for failing to act on hundreds of cases identified for suspicious betting on tennis matches. He said he doesn’t understand why there was no initiative taken by the TIU to establish if there was something dirty going on behind all this. Tennis has been accused of covering up evidence about wide spread gambling in matches by players.
In January, tennis authorities launched an inquiry into corruption after BBC had revealed that TIU had failed to take action despite repeated warnings about 16 players suspected of being involved in match fixing. TIU said in a statement that it was investigating all allegations against Starace and Bracciali and was determined to eradicate all sorts of corruption related to match-fixing.