As yet another corruption scandal broke on Monday, this time tarnishing the world’s top tennis players, any sports fan must surely be wondering who on earth can we trust?
The BBC have damning evidence that points a finger at 16 of the world’s top-ranking tennis players purposefully throwing games. Although these players were repeatedly flagged to the TIU (Tennis Integrity Unit), all players were able to continue competing. The report suggests that high-powered betting agencies in Russia, northern Italy and Sicily have been approaching world famous players and incentivising them to throw matches for big pay outs. Even Novak Djokovic claims to have rejected an offer of £110,000 to throw a match early in his career.
Though the problem stems partially from the players, the root is to be found in those in higher positions of authority who attempt cover ups in order to protect themselves and make money.
Scandals amongst sport’s governing bodies has become fairly regular news. The International Association of Athletic Federations is being investigated after being accused of concealing the blackmailing of athletes in order to cover up state-sponsored doping in Russia. Fifa is similarly under investigation, with 14 current and former officials being charged with corruption by the US government.
The governing bodies at the top of the sporting food chain have seemingly been acting as they pleased, with the incentive being to make money instead of keeping the world of sport as honest as possible. With the fall of tennis one has to wonder how many more sports will descend into a murky underworld of corruption, match fixing and doping.
It begs the question, can sport truly be enjoyed if one can no longer believe or trust the outcome of a game? Much of the excitement of sport comes from the unknown, the unexpected and the possibility of any outcome on the day. But surely as more and more sports and athletes are revealed to have ulterior motives it will become harder and harder to retain faith in your sport.
The power of these governing bodies can also not be underestimated, as evidenced by Sepp Blatter retaining his role as President of Fifa even after serious accusations of corruption. The fans may dislike it, but ultimately they have little power over those who control their sports.
The only silver lining of the incessant flow of corruption in the news is the suggestion that the world of sport is being closely watched, and those partaking in an ugle side of sport are being hounded out. Those who attempt to control the outcome of sporting events, and cover up doping and blackmail clearly must be dealt with.
Whilst this may be the case, the sporting world has certainly taken a huge knock and people’s faith in the sports they love will likely be greatly affected.
Sporting events are supposed to be an inclusive environment in which fans, countries and different groups of people can come together to enjoy entertaining competition and show their support. But with wave after wave of scandal, the world of sport is becoming an increasingly sleazy and underhand world controlled by those put in place to keep it clean.
Of course corruption will always exist, and fan bases will likely remain, but those who inevitably suffer are the fans. Without faith in the players, and the outcomes of games, sport loses much of its purpose.
Hopefully the TIU scandal will be a turning point instead of another downward step, and this period of corruption in sport will become a moment in history that can be learned from.