Belgium detains 13 in tennis match-fixing probe

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgium has detained 13 people in raids over an investigation into suspected match-fixing in the lower ranks of professional tennis, federal prosecutors said on Tuesday.

A criminal organization with ties to Belgium and Armenia has been bribing professional tennis players since 2014 to fix matches, letting the criminals to rake in profits by placing bets, the prosecutors said.

The fixed matches were usually in lower-ranked, rarely televised tournaments, such as the Futures and Challenger circuits, when it was easier to bribe the players, prosecutors said.

Belgian investigators cooperated with counterparts in Germany, France, Bulgaria, Slovakia, the Netherlands and the United States in the investigation.

A judge would decide at a later stage whether those detained would be formally arrested, prosecutors added.

An independent report commissioned by the sport’s major bodies concluded in April that tennis faces “very significant” integrity problems caused by a sharp increase in internet betting.

The issues were greatest in the sport at the lower professional levels, where players had less to gain from winning bona fide matches and less to lose from getting caught, it said.

(This version of the story corrects the month of the report in paragraph 6)

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Peter Graff

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