Tennis Match-Fixing Scandal: Novak Djokovic Says He Was Offered $200,000 to Lose a Match
On Monday the BBC and BuzzFeed UK published joint reports alleging widespread match-fixing in tennis involving a core group of 16 players over the course of many years. However, because of strict libel laws in the UK, they could not publish any names.
While it might seem like that would be a good thing for players, in actuality it puts the game’s biggest stars in the predicament of having to figure out the best way to address the issue. Say too little about the allegations and people might think you are hiding something. Say too much and people might think you are trying to cover something up.
So how did the game’s biggest stars address the scandal? Speaking to the media at the Australian Open on Monday, Serena Williams, Roger Federer, and Maria Sharapova all expressed disappointment and denied knowing anything about it. However, men’s world #1 Novak Djokovic took things a step further and admitted that, in 2007, he was offered $200,000 to throw a first-round match at a tournament in St. Petersburg, Russia.
“It made me feel terrible because I don’t want to be anyhow linked to this kind of, you know, somebody may call it an opportunity,” Djokovic explained. “For me, that’s an act of unsportsmanship, a crime in sport honestly. I don’t support it. I think there is no room for it in any sport, especially in tennis.”
You have to admire the man’s honesty. If nothing else, Djokovic’s claim should give credence to the BBC/BuzzFeed story. With any luck it will be enough to spur law enforcement officials into action.
Here’s a short video of player reactions to the scandal courtesy of the New York Times: