Tennis match-fixing investigation under way in Spain

Twenty-eight professional tennis players are being investigated by Spanish police for alleged match-fixing including a player who competed at last year's US Open. One of the 28 players took part in the last US Open, although their identity has not been revealed.

Tennis may not be the first sport that comes to mind for sports fixing.

European Union police agency Europol said the players were among 83 people detained by Spain's Civil Guard.

Authorities said on Thursday the players tainted results after taking bribes from an Armenian ring that was dismantled in October.

They confiscated €167,000 ($191,000) in cash, a shotgun, more than 50 electronic devices and five luxury vehicles, as well as other valuables.

No other names were immediately disclosed by authorities.

Fornell-Mestres was ranked 1007th in singles and 772th in doubles at the end of 2018. Bank accounts have also been frozen.

The investigation was triggered in 2017 when the Tennis Integrity Unit reported irregular activity during the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Futures and Challenger tournaments, the lower-tier professional tennis competitions.

According to BBC, the Civil Guard added that "once they got the bribe, the Armenian members went to the places where the matches were being played to make sure the player went through with what they had agreed, making the most of their imposing size".

Police are also investigating what they suspect are strong links between some of the suspects arrested in Spain and an Armenian-Belgian crime gang broken up by Belgium police previous year, also suspected of fixing tennis matches.

Match-fixing has been a prominent issue in tennis recently, with Belgian prosecutors detaining 13 people in connection with the issue in June.

Vanessa Coleman

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