Australia’s divisive tennis star Nick Kyrgios isn’t the only one attracting controversy, as a report has revealed his brother, Christos, was paid $40,000 in 2018 to promote Sportsbet.
Christos Kyrgios was labelled by some on social media as a “human billboard” after attending his brother’s match wearing two Sportsbet-branded shirts at the Australian Open last year.
A report from 7.30 has now revealed that Christos Kyrgios was paid $40,000 by Sportsbet for the endorsement, with the appearance triggering a referral from Tennis Australia to the international Tennis Integrity Unit.
This is yet another headache for a sport that is still reeling from a widespread match-fixing scandal that made headlines in 2016, and a nation that has yet to live down cricket’s ball-tampering episode.
An interim report from the Tennis Integrity Unit in April of last year made specific recommendations against sponsorship in the sport from betting companies, stating: “The Panel proposes eliminating betting sponsorships from tennis. Players are precluded from having such sponsorship. The same should apply to tournaments”.
Christos Kyrgios falls under something of a grey area in the tennis anti-corruption policy, as his relation to Nick potentially constitutes him as a covered person.
Of covered persons, the interim report says: “The TACP prevents players and other Covered Persons from receiving sponsorship money from betting operators, but nothing currently restricts the International Governing Bodies or professional tournaments (other than ITF events) from receiving such sponsorships.
The International Governing Bodies should lead by example: If they consider it inappropriate for players and Covered Persons to receive sponsorship money from betting operators, the same standard should apply to the International Governing Bodies and the tournament they endorse.
The Panel appreciates that the considerations underlying the sponsorship prohibition in the TACP – which appears to be designed to discourage players from contriving matches and passing along inside information – do not apply in quite the same way to the International Governing Bodies.
Nevertheless, in the current climate, betting operators’ sponsorship of the International Governing Bodies or professional tennis events sends the wrong message about the sport to its participants and spectators.”
Former vice-president of the Association of Tennis Professionals Richard Ings was much firmer on his definition, telling 7.30: “It includes obviously the player, it includes members of the player’s family, it includes members of the player’s entourage: trainers and coaches and physiotherapists.