Review Calls For ITF To Stop Selling Data From Lower-Tier Events
The long-awaited Independent Review of Integrity in Tennis has concluded that the ITF failed to perform effective due diligence on the effects of selling scoring data from tens of thousands of matches at the lowest pro levels of the sport, unleashing an integrity crisis that one investigator described as a “tsunami.” The review calls for the cessation of selling data from these lower-tier events and the elimination of gambling sponsorships at all pro events. The report did not find an integrity problem at the higher levels of the sport, like the ATP, WTA and Grand Slams.
The ITF, which first entered into a data deal in '11 and then again in '15 with Sportradar, and other tennis bodies have previously pledged to abide by the recommendation. “The Panel recognizes that these recommendations will have an adverse impact on the ITF’s revenues, a substantial part of which is reinvested in promoting tennis at what is essentially a developmental level of the game,” the report said. "The Panel therefore recommends that the other International Governing Bodies should contribute greater funds to assist the ITF’s critical function of developing the next generation of professional tennis players."
The ITF renewed with Sportradar for $70M through '20. In the past, the two entities have declined to assess how much of that figure can be attributed to the lowest rungs of the sport. In a statement, the ITF pointed to the reforms the report endorsed, but a spokesperson declined to elaborate if the association would restructure the Sportradar deal. Sportradar could not immediately be reached for comment, though a spokesperson previously disputed that its data deal had led to corruption at the lowest levels of the sport. Because pay is so low at the lower levels of tennis, players are more susceptible to fixing matches. Before '11, the scores were not sold to gambling houses, so this had not been a concern.
ITF spokesperson Heather Bowler said, “Having received the final report, we will need time to conduct a full assessment of the recommendations, their implications, and any practical issues. We’ll have a clearer idea of the process and timeline for implementation once that is competed.”