Match-Fixing Scandals In The World Of Tennis


STARNBERG, November 27, 2020 (Guest post)

Unlike most popular sports, tennis was never famous for its scandals. As a matter of fact, tennis is often considered one of the most civilized sports, and tournaments are often attended by influential and famous people. 

Nevertheless, tennis has been around for a long time and so naturally there were some situations where the integrity of the sport was questioned.

The most common scandals in tennis history involved match-fixing, and today we are going to explore some of the most recent scandals that shook the foundation of this virtuous sport.

Youseff Hosam

The Egyptian tennis player was found guilty of violating the anti-corruption code between 2015 and 2019. He was involved with eight cases of match-fixing and six cases of facilitating gambling. 

Hassam was charged with two cases of soliciting other players to underperform. Although tennis players have reported him for these approaches three times, Hossam denied all three charges. The twenty-one-year-old player has 21 counts of such reaches against him, and as a result, the Tennis Integrity Unit has dismissed him from the professional tour in 2020.

Hossam was one of the best players in his nation. He won a total of nine Futures titles and was one of the three players from Egypt to reach the ATP top 1000. Furthermore, Hossam was ranked number eight in the world rankings of the juniors category. 

Joao Olavo Soares de Souza

An integrity unit investigation discovered that the Brazilian tennis player was involved in match-fixing at ATP Challenger and ITF Futures tournaments in Brazil, Mexico, the United States, and the Czech Republic. After being found guilty of match-fixing and corruption, Souza was banned for life and fined $200.000 by the International Tennis Federation.

Souza was also accused of failing to cooperate in the investigation performed by the TIU, and this includes the weighty charge of destroying evidence. 

Souza mostly played on the ATP Challenger Tour. He competed both in singles and doubles and was ranked 69 in singles rankings 2015, and number 70 in doubles rankings 2017. 

Aleksandrina Naydenova

The 28-year-old Bulgarian tennis player was accused of partaking in match-fixing activities between 2015 and 2019. The Tennis Integrity Unit has confirmed that Naydenova was guilty of 13 breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Programme, including 12 counts of match-fixing and one relating to several cases of non-cooperation with the investigation. 

As a result, Naydenova was banned for life by the Tennis Integrity Unit and was fined $150.000 for partaking in match-fixing. Naydenova is permanently prohibited from playing or attending tennis events that are authorized by any governing bodies of tennis.

Interestingly, Naydenova is the third Bulgarian tennis player who was hit with a lifetime ban or a suspension in recent weeks. 

Nicolas Kicker

Nicolas Kicker is an Argentinian professional tennis player, who achieved his highest career singles ranking of 78 in 2017. Kicker has won three singles titles, one doubles title on the ATP Challenger Tour, and also 10 single titles, and seven doubles titles on the ITF men’s circuit

In June 2018, Kicker has been suspended for six years and fined $250,000 for perpetrating match-fixing offenses under the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program. The announcement came just before Kicker was about to be placed in the French Open draw at Roland Garros.

The 25-year-old player was found guilty of all three charges involving orchestration of and outcome of a match, failure to report a fraudulent approach, and lack of cooperation with the TIU investigation.

The two matches for which Kicker was suspended took place at Challenger tournaments when he was still ranked way behind the first 100. The first match that rose public suspicion, was in 2015 in Padova, Italy, where he lost against Duckhee Lee. The second match, against Giovanni Lapentti, drew even more suspicion, due to irregular betting patterns. Namely, as Kicker gained the advantage of the match, and won the first set, betting odds shifted against him. This suggested that people betting against him were confident that despite his lead, Kicker would lose in the end.