EU-wide law enforcement agency Europol has confirmed that 83 individuals have been arrested in connection with a criminal syndicate found to be manipulating professional tennis competitions and matches.

28 of the 83 arrested were professional tennis players, with Europol reporting that one player had participated in last year’s US Open Grand Slam tournament.

The criminal group is reported to have bribed registered professional tennis players, seeking to guarantee predetermined results. Once bribed the syndicate would then utilise thousands of citizens to wager on the fixed matches.

“A criminal group of Armenian individuals used a professional tennis player, who acted as the link between the gang and the rest of the criminal group.”

“Once they bribed the players, the Armenian network members attended the matches to ensure that the tennis players complied with what was previously agreed, and gave orders to other members of the group to go ahead with the bets placed at national and international level ” details Europol in its media update.

Europol supported the Spanish Guardia Civil in the investigation, in which criminal activity took place across a number of jurisdictions. Europol supported Spanish police forces with data analysis, suspect verifications, forensic support and real-time cross-checking capacities.

Further tennis corruption inquiries have been carried out by The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU)  and the Independent Review Panel (IRP) to crackdown on the manipulation of professional tennis fixtures. Europol’s arrests follow this December’s publication by the sport’s IRP on combating betting-related integrity issues.

The publication highlighted a number of concerns regarding tennis’ relationship with betting, and detailed that the report proves that ‘corruption had taken root at the lower levels of the game’.

Three tennis chair umpires were also issued with lifetime bans in October following a TIU review, which found the trio guilty of match-fixing and betting offences.