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Tennis remains match-fixing target as Euro 2016 declared corruption-free

The latest report from sports integrity body ESSA shows that professional tennis continues to be targeted by suspected match fixers, while the Euro 2016 football championship concluded without any integrity concerns.

ESSA’s report for the second quarter of 2016 shows that a total of 41 events across a range of sports were flagged as suspicious, with 34 centering on tennis matches.

Tennis accounted for 83 per cent of all suspicious activity alerts during the period, an increase of 10 per cent on the sport’s 2015 average. Football was a distant second with four suspicious incidents, followed by one each for snooker, handball and beach volleyball.

The majority of suspicious betting occurred in Europe, where 24 cases were detected, compared to five each in Africa and Asia, three each in North and South America, and one case having no specific country of origin.

The small number of incidents involving football was reflected in a lack of identified match-fixing attempts around the UEFA Euro 2016 football tournament, which UEFA described as a triumph for its integrity programme launched two months prior to the event.

The programme provided education for players and officials, with particular emphasis on preventing issues relating to match-fixing and pinpointing irregular betting patterns.

UEFA's head of disciplinary and integrity, Emilio Garcia, commented: "We are very satisfied with the outcome of the integrity programme specifically launched for the first time at a EURO.

"In close cooperation with the French police and other key stakeholders, we have guaranteed a secure football tournament in terms of betting alerts. The analysis carried out by the specific UEFA working group showed that Euro 2016 matches had been played without any integrity concerns," he said.

With regard to the problems in tennis, ESSA chairman Mike O’Kane welcomed the sport's commitment to reviewing its integrity procedures.

"We must, quite reasonably, give the sport some breathing space to identify and implement any necessary changes, but changes are clearly needed and the sooner the better for us all," said O’Kane.

"In the meantime, ESSA will continue to support the sport in this important endeavour, which will hopefully soon result in the delivery of a best practice model that others will follow."

ESSA also embarked on a number of measures to strengthen its integrity controls over the quarter, with O’Kane highlighting information sharing deals with the French and Lithuanian gambling regulators, as well as a trial integrity partnership with Sportradar, focused specifically on tennis.

A number of new ESSA members were also announced in the second quarter, including Russia's Fonbet and The R&A, organisers of major golf tournament The Open, further widening the association’s global alert and reporting system.

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