4 Tennis Players Arrested For Match FixingJake Cooper | 28 Jan 2019
Four semi pro French tennis players have been arrested on suspicion of match fixing. It was discovered that the players have ties to an illegal gambling syndicate, which may be related to the match fixing uncovered in Spain, which resulted in the questioning of 28 players.
The four players who have been arrested are Jules Okala, Mick Lescure, Yannick Thivant and Jerome Inzerillo. The players are not well known, with the highest rank among them being Inzerillo, who had a career best at number 354.
The players have admitted to accepting payment from gambling syndicate leader Grigor Sargsyan, known to them as Maestro, of between $500 and $3000 per match to throw the game. Although the players are professional, due to their low ranking the prize pools should they win are often much less than the illegal payment.
By throwing the matches the players are guaranteed as much as double what they would make if they were to win a tournament. The syndicate then pays mules to place many small bets on the outcome, which together accumulate to large sums without ever raising suspicion.
A Second Ring Uncovered
Authorities have been investigated match-fixing in Europe for months, and announced that the practice is extremely commonplace, with one suspect admitting to fixing hundreds of matches. A few dozen more players and their managers will be brought in for questioning over the coming weeks.
It has been discovered that in addition to the French players, there are players from Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Germany, and Slovakia who have been implicated. More than 100 players are suspected to have been involved.
The ’Maestro’ is currently being held in Brussels after being arrested in Belgium for match fixing, money laundering, forgery and participation in organized crime. The ringleader is from Armenia and suspected to be involved in the Spanish syndicate uncovered a few weeks ago.
Links Are Being Investigated
Europol Pedro Felicio, head of the Economic and Property Crime Unit said in an interview that tennis is not the only sport to be affected. Indications point to volleyball and basketball involvement as well.
The investigations have found links between the two syndicates modus operandi, contacts, and phone records. Investigators from Belgium travelled to France to participate in the questioning of the four players, who are being detained in an effort to understand to what extent the two syndicates may be linked.