The recent revelations that journeyman Moroccan player, Younes Rachidi, has been banned for life after being found guilty of 135 counts of match-fixing, has once again brought to the fore the murky underbelly of Tennis – far from its glamorous center courts and its feted champions.
It lays bare the disparities between the top-tier players and the thousands of struggling professionals, for whom Roland Garros and Wimbledon seem a million miles away.
In this cauldron of anonymity and living paycheck to paycheck, the seeds of match-fixing are allowed to grow, unfettered.
How far has match-fixing infiltrated the game
Only a fool will regard this recent case as an isolated incident as there have been rumblings for years that the remuneration system of both the ATP and WTA organizations was top-heavy and unfavorable to fringe professionals whose struggles are similar to ordinary people working a low paying 9-to-5 job.
The Tennis Anti-Corruption Program, while noble in theory, seems a mere band-aid for a more serious ailment afflicting the sport. There have been serious doubts that such programs were stemming the tide of criminality entering the game: for a so-called governing body, its critics have argued that there have been too few instances of prosecutions considering Tennis is a global sport played by millions.
As long as professional tennis players eke out a paltry existence, they are fair game to the online betting syndicates and the shadowy world of sports betting that is mushrooming worldwide. Traveling from one far-flung outpost to the next, stuck in the endless monotony of cheap hotel rooms and constant worries about finances, is it any surprise that the problem might be far more serious than anticipated?
Thus the relevant authorities need to look inwardly and ask the hard questions. Are they really serious about rooting out this corruption or is their efforts merely to placate their most vociferous critics?
The game, though, is under serious threat. One only has to look at cricket and see how both spot-fixing and match-fixing have pervaded the once-respected and admired game, taking root all over the globe.
Tennis needs to get its house in order.