Live data provider Sportradar has praised the International Tennis Federation (ITF) for “building an integrity program that is second to none in the sport” after confirmation of the organisation’s new $8m investment in tournament infrastructure.
The ITF will invest the money into a series of integrity-related projects covering key areas such as the introduction of accreditation and access control systems for WTT events, video recording, added security to deter unofficial data collection, the appointment of on-site integrity protection personnel, and enhanced channels for the reporting of integrity concerns by players and officials.
“Sportradar continues to support measures that enhance the integrity of tennis and we have played an active role in the process towards implementation of the IRP recommendations over the last 12 months,” said David Lampitt, Sportradar MD of Sports Partnerships. “The ITF should be applauded for its proactive approach in addressing the concerns raised and building an integrity program that is second to none in the sport.
“The statistics for 2019 show that there has been a significant decrease in integrity issues at ITF competitions. ITF events were already amongst the least likely to be corrupted in the sport and we therefore trust that the TIU Supervisory Board will now work with equal focus on delivering the recommendations to address the integrity concerns that exist across all levels.
The investment plans were announced alongside confirmation that the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) Supervisory Board had finally agreed to the Independent Review Panel’s core recommendation to limit the sale of live scoring data at the $15k level of the ITF’s World Tennis Tour (WTT), while keeping it in place for the $25k level.
The ITF is prioritizing the creation of more $25k events to provide a balanced calendar and to deter unofficial data collection at events for which the data has been discontinued.
The Supervisory Board and the ITF have agreed to a timetable for reducing the supply of live scoring data for WTT $15k matches – something that has been ongoing since December 2018. Under this agreed timetable, up to 3,500 fewer matches will have been made available to the betting markets in 2019 compared to 2018.
Further reductions will continue during 2020 and 2021, leading to complete discontinuance of live scoring data at WTT $15k events when all integrity protection measures are in place.
Khalid Ali, CEO of IBIA, commented: “In-play betting makes up 80% of IBIA members’ tennis markets and over 95% at ITF level,” he said. “Retaining live data for $25k matches and setting out an expansion of that tour is an overwhelmingly beneficial move by tennis both from an integrity and commercial standpoint.
“Removing all ITF World Tennis Tour data from regulated operators would have led to the undesirable situation of consumers seeking that product through unregulated channels, with the corresponding loss of market oversight and the ability to detect and punish corruption.
“Protecting the sport and operators against match-fixing is an ongoing challenge. However, IBIA is encouraged by the impact of recent criminal investigations and the allocation of additional resources to the TIU. That has seen a significant downturn in suspicious betting alerts, particularly at ITF level. It is the responsibility of all stakeholders to continue to work together to maintain that positive trend.
“IBIA and its members remain committed to protecting the integrity of tennis at all levels and will continue to work closely with the sport to meet that challenge.”