Days before the first ball was hit at The Australian Open in Melbourne, a joint investigation between the BBC and Buzzfeed rocked the sporting world with claims 16 tennis players had been throwing matches.
And fixed gambling and odds meant those in on it would reel in the big bucks.
The investigation – which you can read here – didn’t name names, but it came at a time right before the world’s best were hitting the courts for Australia’s biggest tennis tournament.
When the scandal broke, Tennis Australia released a statement saying the tennis government bodies rejected claims evidence of match fixing was “suppressed” and there was a “zero-tolerance approach to all aspects of corruption”. They have provided the same statement for this article. Read the full statement at the end of this article.
No one was named in the investigation, but already some high-profile players have come out swinging against alleged accusations.
Lleyton Hewitt, who retired Thursday night after his loss to David Ferrer, on Friday morning flatly denied any match fixing claims. Novak Djokovic too has apparently been accused and has denied allegations.
We spoke to a couple of branding and PR experts to understand the impact the scandal has had on the brand Tennis Australia – the company behind the Australian Open.
The rumours are the hardest part to slay, said Geoffrey Stackhouse, crisis guru at crisis communications company Clarity Solutions. “And this rumour is particularly pernicious – partly because of similar scandals in cricket and soccer but mainly due to the credibility of the source. The BBC rarely gets it wrong.”
The cricket corruption scandal in 2000 saw allegations of match fixing by South African cricket players during the tour to India. Many were subsequently banned from the sport.
Tom Brigstocke, group CEO of strategy branding company Principals, also drew similarities between the cricket corruption in 2000 and the scandal currently ongoing. And at the time, it was the overall sport of cricket that suffered, he said.
“I’m not sure we have all the facts yet [of the tennis scandal] – but regardless it’s certain that a brand can’t recover until it’s generally accepted that the facts/issues are known and genuinely acknowledged by those in positions of responsibility.
“Look at the much discussed VW issues. Only after that can a road to recovery start to be planned with any credibility.”
However, branding company uberbrand reckons it won’t really affect the brand. “There’s been a history of scandals in sports and these situations will happen again over time,” said managing director, Dan Ratner. “However, we’ve seen that these scandals generally don’t effect the long-term brand equity of the associations or the players involved.
“For the majority of tennis players, they’ve built up credibility over a long period of time and this one negative impression generally isn’t enough to overcome all of the positive impressions of their personal brand.
“As for the Tennis Australia brand as a whole, they’ve had a long standing reputation for credibility and we hope this alleged incident isn’t harmful enough to change that perception.”
And while the gambling community took a hit in the scandal, this shouldn’t bother Tennis Australia, said Stackhouse. “Tennis Australia won’t give a toss about bent bookies, but they will feel the pain if the fans stay away in droves. Because that will hurt ticket sales and spook the sponsors.
“Luckily for Tennis Australia they may not feel the pain this time,” he added. “Most seats have already been sold and the average punter won’t fork out $300 for a pair of tickets just to stay home. And the lucrative corporate market was stitched up months ago.”
The rumours won’t go away by themselves though, he added.
“To lay the rumours to rest the International Tennis Federation will need a high profile and well publicised scapegoat to name and shame,” he said.
“They could also reassure the public by appointing a respected firm like Ernst & Young to audit their processes and declare them squeaky clean. Ideally suggesting a new set of safeguards for added confidence.”
Tennis Australia’s full statement
Statement from tennis governing bodies
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
18 January, 2016 AEST
Tennis rejects suggestion evidence of match fixing suppressed
- The Tennis Integrity Unit and the tennis authorities absolutely reject any suggestion that evidence of match fixing has been suppressed for any reason
- In its investigations the Tennis Integrity Unit has to find evidence as opposed to information, suspicion or hearsay
- A year-long investigation into the Sopot match in 2007 found insufficient evidence. As the BuzzFeed report states: “the investigators had hit a brick wall. It just wasn’t possible to determine who the guilty party was in relation to this match”
- All professional players, support staff and officials are subject to the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program
- Tennis Integrity Unit-instigated anti-corruption investigations have resulted in 18 successful disciplinary cases including five players and one official who have been banned from the sport for life.
In response to match fixing allegations aired on BBC News and BuzzFeed online, the four governing bodies of tennis (ATP, WTA, Grand Slam Board, ITF) who are partners in the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), said today that there is a zero-tolerance approach to all aspects of corruption and that they are and will continue to be firmly committed to protecting the integrity of the sport.
Speaking on behalf of the partners, Chris Kermode, Executive Chairman of the ATP and Tennis Integrity Board member, said: “Tennis remains fully committed to meeting the challenge that all sports face from corrupt betting practices. We have stringent procedures and sanctions in place to deal with any suspected corruption and have shown we will act decisively when our integrity rules are broken.
“No player or official is immune from investigation, regardless of their status or position in the sport. Investigations follow where evidence leads” Mr Kermode said.
“All professional players, support staff and officials are subject to the terms of the Tennis AntiCorruption Program (TACP) which equips the TIU with substantial investigative powers. These include the right to interview any relevant person of interest and obtain their telephone, computer and bank records.
“No player or official is ever cleared by the TIU of potential involvement in corruption. By its very nature, corruption is difficult to prove, so while the process can often be lengthy, the TIU will continue to pursue evidence where it believes it is warranted.”
In 2011 the TIU opened an investigation into a player that was subsequently placed on-hold for lack of substantive evidence. When new evidence was obtained in 2013, the player was charged and found guilty of three breaches of the TACP. He was suspended for a period of five years and fined US$25,000. A subsequent appeal to the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) in early 2014 was dismissed and the original sanction upheld.
“For four years the TIU continued to pursue this case; time and effort that was vindicated by removing a corrupt player from the game for a substantial period of time” Mr. Kermode said.
“We remain open and willing to upgrade any or all of the anti-corruption systems we have in place if we need to.”
In September 2008 the four tennis associations came together to streamline and strengthen corruption investigations becoming one of the first major sports to establish its own dedicated anti-corruption unit. The Tennis Investigation Unit is charged with enforcing the sport’s zero tolerance policy towards gambling-related corruption worldwide.
Since 2010, TIU-instigated anti-corruption investigations have resulted in 18 successful disciplinary cases being brought forward.
These prosecutions include five players and one official who have been banned from the sport for life.
Each of the 18 cases was a result of TIU-instigated investigations, rather than law enforcement or judicial prosecutions, or sting or entrapment operations.
Where cases have been appealed by players to the Court for Arbitration in Sport, the original period of suspension handed down by an independent Anti-Corruption Hearing Officer has been upheld.
This reinforces the robustness of the original investigation and the strength of evidence gathered by TIU. The TIU online anti-corruption player education program is mandatory and has been completed by more than 23,000 professional players.
“There are nearly 21,000 active professional players and over 2,100 officials, playing and officiating in over 1,500 tournaments in 80 countries around the world. The vast majority of these individuals are good people of high integrity,” Mr Kermode said.
“Unfortunately, there is always a minority who seek personal gain from corrupt activity. Those individuals will continue to be subject to investigation by the TIU and disciplinary sanctions which include lifetime bans and punitive financial penalties.”
Yesterday the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) released its gender pay gap numbers for the first time, and not everyone agrees with the findings, Following the release, Google Australia – which had a median gender pay gap of 14.9 per cent when total remuneration is considered – sent an internal memo to staff in which […]
Ogilvy PR has announced a number of promotions and several hires as it strengthens its corporate leadership structure. Jacquie Potter, currently Group MD of Ogilvy PR’s corporate and business practice, has also joined ALDI as a client. Lead Image: (L-R) – Ant Kelaher, Frances Dwyer, Mitch Henderson and Amy Piek. With Potter’s upcoming departure, Ant Kelaher, who […]
The Sweetshop Australia announces the arrival of Kate Roydhouse to its leadership team as executive producer. Pictured L-R: Kate Roydhouse (Executive Producer), Edward Pontifex (Co-Managing Director), Greg Fyson (Co-Managing Director). Basing herself in the Sydney office, Roydhouse will be a familiar face to many in the industry as she has been working alongside Ben Dailey […]
The 64th TV WEEK Logie Awards will be held in Sydney on Sunday, 18 August 2024, with changes to award categories and the judging process being implemented to ensure the Awards evolve and prosper as well as reflect Australia’s vibrant, dynamic and world-class television industry alongside the viewing habits of Australians. Three awards will continue […]
In the face of challenging times, Square, in partnership with Alchemy One, launched an innovative campaign dedicated to bringing some holiday cheer while powering local businesses in Melbourne. At the core of the activation is the Square Claw Machine, which offered commuters a chance to win vouchers for local eateries powered by Square, including popular […]
GroupM is expanding its strategy team in New Zealand with the appointment of Dom Dipple as a strategist. The newly created role marks the latest of several key appointments at GroupM New Zealand in recent months under new CEO John Halpin. Dipple will report to Emily Scovell, who joined in December as chief strategy officer. […]
Wellbub, a trailblazer in promoting maternal well-being in Singapore, launched its groundbreaking campaign, ‘The Ruin I Need To Fix,’ on Tuesday, 27th February 2024. This transformative initiative aims to challenge societal norms surrounding postpartum bodies, fostering inclusivity and empowering new mothers to embrace the beauty of their journey. The Wellbub team, in collaboration with photographer […]
Australian Turf Club invites racing lovers across Australia to Expect It All with the launch of the latest creative campaign to highlight the racing on offer in Sydney at Rosehill Gardens and Royal Randwick. The campaign, which will officially launch ahead of this year’s Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, highlights the wide range of incredible experiences […]
Avenue C has won the media account for kitchen appliance brand KitchenAid, B&T can reveal. The North Sydney-based agency snared the media planning and buying work away from Havas. M&C Saatchi-owned Bohemia and fellow indie agency This Is Flow are understood to have been involved in the pitch, too. KitchenAid had awarded its media planning […]
The ballet takes us away from the everyday – a feeling that inspired the theme for West Australian Ballet’s 2024 Season ‘The Discovery.’ In partnership with VML, West Australian Ballet worked with renowned photographer Jason Capobianco to bring the sensation of the 2024 theme to life. ‘The Discovery’ concept explores how ballet takes audiences someplace […]
Icon Agency’s Digital UX design team has partnered with Visual Communication Victoria (VCV) to provide an enriching presentation for secondary school students across Victoria. The session aimed to teach students UX design principles with a human-centred approach. Tailored for VCE Visual Communication Design students as part of their Unit 3 curriculum, the presentation focused on […]
Tracksuit has announced it has raised $20.5 million AUD in Series A funding, led by Silicon Valley-based firms Altos Ventures and Footwork. Lead Image: Matt Herbert & Connor Archbold The funding marks the company’s second external investment, reaching a staggering valuation of $142.9 million AUD and achieving $9.5 million ARR in just under three years. […]
She Creates has revealed its plans for 2024 with a new committee and revamped structure to support women in the creative industry. Lead image: Amy Lambert & Elise Rundell She Creates is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to inspiring, promoting and representing women in the creative communications industry of Adelaide. “As we start this new […]
Carlton FC had an epic run to the finals series but fell short just one game before the grand final, succumbing 63 points to the Brisbane Lions 79. As the 2024 season looms, the Blues are focused on taking it one step further. Welcome back to B&T’s Spotlight on Sponsors series, where we unpack all the major […]
Something insane swept to New Zealand as finals approached last year. “Wahs Mania” took hold, and hope was ignited in the hearts of Kiwis who mostly didn’t usually care about League. Sadly, the Warriors didn’t make it through to the grand final, but the clubs following saw a massive increase nonetheless. Welcome back to B&T’s Spotlight […]
Credit Union SA has partnered with a local South Australian integrated agency, kwpx, on a new brand campaign, ‘We CU SA,’ that highlights their love for the state. The recently launched large-scale brand campaign showcases Credit Union SA as one of the last remaining credit unions solely focused on South Australian members. The campaign captures […]
Atomic 212° has continued its 2023 winning streak into the new year with the announcement of three new clients: VetPartners, Adyen and UKG. Lead image: Claire Fenner VetPartners is Australasia’s leading veterinary practice management company, with a community of 4,500 people in more than 250 practices plus training centres, a vet nurse training school and […]
Cannes in Cairns revellers at the ready, we’ve got the low down on the MOOD x Mental Health First Aid Course taking place at this year’s Cannes in Cairns. The industry-first course will see attendees certified as mental health first aiders, to help colleagues manage their mental health. Chloe Hooper, the founder of Bare Feat […]
Avid Collective has officially announced the appointment of former Scout Publishing and Junkee Media executive Niki Jones (lead image) as its new head of enablement operations. In the newly created role, Jones will be responsible for overseeing operational activities across various arms of business with a focus on partner engagement. “Niki’s appointment comes at an […]