ITIA Press Release, May 6, 2022
The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) has today confirmed that six Spanish tennis players have been banned from the sport after they were convicted of criminal charges relating to match fixing. The players were convicted in Spain, as part of a wider case involving organised crime, which continues.
The six players, Marc Fornell Mestres (highest ATP ranking of 236), Jorge Marse Vidri (highest ATP ranking 562) and unranked players Carlos Ortega, Jaime Ortega, Marcos Torralbo and Pedro Bernabe Franco all pleaded guilty to corruption charges in Spain, resulting in criminal convictions. The players were all given two-year suspended prison sentences, as well as a fine.
Now the criminal cases are complete, the ITIA has been able to sanction the players and has imposed both long bans and financial penalties. The details are:
- Marc Fornell Mestres is banned from tennis for 22 years and six months, and fined $250,000 – with $200,000 suspended
- Jorge Marse Vidri is banned from tennis for 15 years, and fined $15,000 – with $5,000 suspended
- Carlos Ortega is banned from tennis for 15 years, and fined $150,000 – with $140,000 suspended
- Jaime Ortega is banned from tennis for 7 years and six months, and fined $100,000 – with $90,000 suspended
- Marcos Tarralbo is banned from tennis for 15 years, and fined $100,000 – with $85,000 suspended
- Pedro Bernabe Franco is banned from tennis for 15 years, and fined $100,000 – with $75,000 suspended
The sanctions mean that they are prohibited from playing in or attending any tennis event authorised or sanctioned by any international tennis governing body or national association for the length of their bans. They are also unable to coach in the professional game.
ITIA Chair Jennie Price commented, “The conclusion of this long-term investigation is an important moment for tennis in its fight against corruption. . Whilst we take no pleasure in seeing six individuals receive criminal convictions and bans, the message is clear: match fixing can lead to a jail sentence and can end your career in tennis. It also serves as a warning that organised crime is targeting sport, and governments and law enforcement agencies, as well as anti-corruption bodies in sport, need to take that threat seriously.”
The verdicts mark the end of a five-year process which involved co-operation between the ITIA (previously the Tennis Integrity Unit), Spanish law enforcement and the betting industry, through the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA).
ITIA CEO Jonny Gray commented, “This is one of the most significant infiltrations of tennis by organised crime that we have seen. We welcome the involvement of law enforcement agencies and the prosecution of entire criminal networks, not just the players involved. This ruling sends a strong message that match fixing is a crime which can see criminal convictions.” He added, “I must pay tribute to our investigations, intelligence and legal teams who have worked tirelessly over the last five years or so to bring this case to its conclusion. We also had excellent co-operation between the ITIA and Spanish law enforcement agencies, as well as the unswerving support of the tennis bodies. Finally, we are hugely grateful to the betting industry for their evidence, leading to these convictions.”
The details of the players’ criminal convictions are:
- Three months of prison, suspended for belonging to criminal organization (article 570 bis.1/ter.1 of the Spanish criminal code)
- Nine months of prison, suspended for fraud (articles 248 and 250 of the Spanish criminal code)
- One year of prison, suspended for corruption in business (match fixing) (article 286 bis of the criminal code)
- A fine of 450 euros