Tennis suffered a severe dent to its reputation yesterday on the first day of the Australian Open. All that heat was not because of the merciless Melbourne mercury. Match fixing has thrown its ugly shadow over the sport, and fans, and followers were part of the buzz that has been created for all the wrong reasons.
Reports state that tennis’ governing bodies have rejected claims that they covered up or ignored evidence related to match fixing. This, in the wake of an investigation that claimed Grand Slam winners were amongst a group of 16 players who have been reported for losing games when suspicious bets have been placed against them. This investigation, was conducted by BuzzFeed News and the BBC.
Tennis authorities now under pressure to react have rejected that evidence of match fixing has been suppressed, according to a statement from Melbourne. Certain sporadic matches have been under the scanner in the past and one or two players have been asked a few questions, but, that has been a ripple which now threatens to swell into a wave.
Let the authorities now be more transparent about what steps they are taking to find out the truth behind these allegations. Vanilla statements like: 'something is being done,’ or ‘we have not suppressed evidence,’ are not going to cut it. A committee which addresses media, lays down facts and spells out the modus operandi without compromising on ongoing investigation, is needed. Otherwise, tennis will go the way cricket has gone, suffer massive dents to its credibility, lose fans, and end up discrediting players who are above board. They are the ones who sweat and put in incredible work into their sport, but, if their performance is looked at with a jaundiced eye, then, it is incredibly unfair to them.
Now is the time to show the world that the tennis tours are there to stamp out any fixing, on a war footing. Intent and purpose is important but you need to demonstrate this to people who pay to fill up those seats in the stadium. Let the Australian Open spell a literal beginning to opening the can of worms season.