A New Tennis Scandal in Brazil Reminds All How Vital it is to Support Professional AthletesPublished February 8, 2020 by Lee R
When even the more obscure professional athlete falls prey to addiction or unscrupulous betting forces, the results can be catastrophic.
While studies on the vulnerability of professional athletes to sports betting temptations have recently focused on the ease with which they are allowed to punt due to their celebrity status, a greater threat has unfortunately resurfaced in real time.
Match-Fixing the Worst Case
Addicted players can gamble away their fortunes or bonuses, but a severe match-fixing scandal reminds us of the greater threat to players than addiction.
The extreme example comes in the form of the lifetime ban handed down by the Tennis Integrity Unit TIU to Brazilian tennis player Joao Olavo Soares de Souza after his conviction for multiple match-fixing and corruption violations.
An independent investigation by the sport of tennis' anti-corruption body TIU issued to the player Souza an additional $200,000 (£153,057/€181,319) fine for breaching the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP) repeatedly between 2015 and 2019, across ATP Challenger and ITF Futures events held across Brazil, Mexico, the US and Czech Republic.
The Extent of Influence
This unsightly scandal is worth noting from a sports betting perspective because of findings that Souza failed to report corruption approaches, a nefarious reminder that professional athletes are continuously being approached by dark forces seeking to influence athletes to alter the outcome of games that affect betting payouts--deceptive efforts which in de Souza's case extended to attempting to influence other players not to give full effort.
The Vulnerability of Problem-Gambling Athletes
In keeping, a player who shows a vulnerability to addiction is most likely to accumulate large gambling debts and become a patsy for unscrupulous operators, and organized crime--let us not sugarcoat this reality.
Even on a relatively minor circuit, such as de Souza's satellite tennis circuit play, the temptations and dangers lurk: it is up to the governing bodies of sports to make support for gaming addiction available to all athletes, as individuals with strong influence on outcomes whose vulnerabilities will be targeted by the most nefarious forces with the largest temptations to influence outcomes--through not just free play but overt large money offers.
While we may never know de Souza's exact motivation, the need to pay back gambling debts is invariably somewhere near the top of the list of motivation every time an individual athlete throws an event.
The leagues need to monitor for signs, and offer proactive and preventative support to it's athletes, to protect the integrity of sport and the licensed iGaming industry, as well as all participating players and punters alike.