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In professional sports there are many scourges, but few like illegal betting, controlled by mafias and corrupting athletes, forcing them to participate in their tricks in exchange for large sums of money. These characters, who never show their faces, work in the shadows, damaging the sport and destroying the careers of many professionals who are caught and receive harsh penalties for their participation in these illegal businesses.

If there is a sport in which illegal betting is doing special damage and is highly persecuted, it is tennis, which constantly suffers from this scourge. The organizations in defense of the players and the integrity of the sport are forced to intervene again and again in this type of case, since the mafias that run this type of business have no qualms about contacting tennis players and forcing them to participate in his wiles even with threats. In the end, those who end up paying for these types of errors are the players, since many of them lose their careers by participating in illegal gambling.

the latest cases

Cases of illegal betting in tennis are not isolated and the name of a player who receives penalties for them is often known. The enormous frequency with which these cases occur is striking, since almost every week or almost every month new names of tennis players are known who are involved in the business of match-fixing and illegal betting.

Mauricio Alvarez-Guzman. Photo: Facebook (Mauricio Álvarez Guzmán)

The groups that are dedicated to this type of business study the ranking and market situation, as well as the professionals who, due to their situation, may be more vulnerable to accepting to enter the game. These are highly qualified professionals who know perfectly how the system works in order to be as successful as possible without raising suspicion. In the end, they have the support that, in most cases, the one who ends up paying the consequences if a plot is discovered is the player.

In recent days, two new cases of players have been sanctioned for being present in illegal bets and rigged matches and who continue to tarnish the good name of world tennis in exchange for money. The first was Mostafa Hateman Egyptian tennis player who was currently not active and unranked ATP. However, he has been discovered and he himself has acknowledged having violated the code of conduct, which has allowed him to have his sanction reduced. Hatem was tried by an illegal betting network to lose in several matches, but he did not inform the relevant organizations, committing a serious infraction. Now he will not be able to enter any tennis venue until 2022 and will also have to pay a fine of $3,000.

US Open ball

The other recently known case has been that of the Uzbek tennis player Temur Ismailov. At 25 years old, he was ranked 756 in the ATP ranking and has acknowledged having been involved in the illegal betting business during the years 2014, 2015 and 2019, for which he has been defined as a repeat offender and with the aggravating circumstance of having committed a crime over a long period of time. For this, he has received an exemplary sanction of $12,000 and a seven-year suspension without competing, which will undoubtedly be the end of his tennis career.

Economic problems

The origin of these mafias always responds to economic problems. They contact players with very low rankings knowing that they often have problems earning money despite dedicating themselves to tennis professionally. They study their candidates and when they notice that they have reached a certain age, but have not managed to climb positions, they attack them with all kinds of proposals to promise them a golden future within illegality. In addition, they threaten to restrict them and obtain what they are looking for, that they agree to manipulate the results of the matches.

As if this were not enough, they also take advantage of the fact that players with a low ranking play games of little importance and in unimportant tournaments because they know they are less controlled. So, they inflate the bets and get rich on the profits. The less control and the more unexpected the result, and therefore the bet, the more money they pocket. Then, by disappearing without a trace, they have it all done, since whoever is registered as the protagonist of the match is the player who has been captured.

Tennis match at the Sánchez-Casal Academy in Naples, Florida.

Tennis match at the Sánchez-Casal Academy in Naples, Florida.

Tennis Chicky

This illegal betting business moves hundreds and hundreds of tennis players and millions of euros throughout the year, so it is a very dangerous business that generates great power behind it. The leaders of these schemes take advantage of struggling tennis players to offer them money in exchange for ruining their careers. In the end, it all adds up to more misery, as tennis players are often caught, forced to pay significant fines and long periods of inactivity, which ends up causing the end of their careers or, at least, being marked forever.

The IUT to the rescue

The body in charge of acting in these cases is the THAT oneacronym in English for Tennis Integrity Unit. This is an anti-corruption establishment that works to protect professional tennis around the world from illegal betting. In addition, it is the entity in charge of complying with the zero tolerance policy with these clandestine and illegal businesses.

In all cases of illegal betting, it is the TIU that intervenes, either against the tennis players involved or against organized groups. The tasks of the Tennis Integrity Unit are to work on the prevention of corruption, investigate the cases and the people involved, prosecute the culprits and establish the pertinent sanctions. In addition, they also have the mission of providing anti-corruption education to people who have acknowledged being part of these businesses or who have denounced them when they have contacted them.

The Magic Box will host the Mutua Madrid Open in September.

The Magic Box will host the Mutua Madrid Open in September.

angel martinez

Mutua Madrid Open

To carry out all this work, they have been commissioned to draw up a program that they must follow in their fight against corruption in tennis and to ensure the integrity of the sport and thus prevent it from influencing the results of the matches. The TIU is an organization independent from any other, created in 2008 and headquartered in Londonand which is supported by the International Tennis Federationthe Association of Professional Tennis Playersthe Women’s Tennis Associationhe Open the Australia, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open.

debate in tennis

Illegal betting on tennis is an issue that worries the vast majority of the circuit a lot. Therefore, ATP and WTA They are working together to see how they can attack the root of the problem. While the TIU is in charge of carrying out the investigations and sanctions, tennis tries to solve this scourge by going to the base of the conflict. For this reason, they are also mobilizing the main figures of the circuit, as is the case with the Players Council.

Nadal, Federer and Fognini at the Laver Cup

Nadal, Federer and Fognini at the Laver Cup


The pattern that is repeated in the professionals that are involved is their little fame, a ranking that is very far from the top positions and difficulties in finding tournaments and being able to obtain earnings that allow them to continue with their dream of being professional tennis players. For this reason, the ways to reinforce this type of situation are already being studied so that the players do not have to be carried away by this type of criminal gangs.

In the ATP, at a particular level, a deep debate has been opened to study what decisions to make and what points to influence to prevent this type of thing from continuing to happen, since an external market for tennis has been created that moves millions and millions of euro every year. Supporting the humblest sector of tennis so that it is protected and cannot be deceived by the betting mafias is presented as a key task and an essential long-term objective. But for this, tournaments, funds and aid focused on achieving this type of purpose are needed.

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