The Guardia Civil has swooped on a tennis match-fixing ring, arresting thirty-four people suspected of rigging games in order to win online bets.
Six of those detained are professional tennis players ranked between 800 and 1,200 in the world, and 30 to 300 in Spain, with the majority of the arrests taking place in Madrid and Sevilla, where the ring-leaders were based.
Others were detained in A Coruña, Pontevedra, Córdoba, Almería, Huelva, Cádiz, Barcelona, Cáceres, Badajoz and Ciudad Real.
The strategy employed by the group was to arrange for a semi-professional player to get in touch with professionals operating on the national and international circuits.
This intermediary would arrange for players to lose a particular set, enabling members of the ring to accumulate winnings via online betting portals, with the accommodating athletes also pocketing some of the proceeds.
The players involved were aged between 17 and 30-years-old, although a police spokesperson said that “the younger ones were not aware of what they were doing.”
The intermediaries were normally training partners or had competed against the targeted players, and in some cases even deceived them by paying out much less than the agreed amount once the match had been played.
Once a player had agreed to throw a match or set, members of the ring would be informed via an instant messaging group, with at least 17 tournaments held in Sevilla, Huelva, Tarragona, Madrid and Porto (Portugal) known to have been compromised.
If a player did not agree, they would be offered a larger cut of the winnings, and if this failed the leaders would step in.
The police investigation was launched after the Guardia received a tipoff from the international Tennis Integrity Unit, and further arrests have not been ruled out.