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Match Fixing: 28 Professional Tennis Players Arrested in Spain

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Law enforcement officials in Spain have arrested 28 professional tennis players in an investigation into match-fixing by an Armenian criminal gang.

In a lead investigation, the Spain's Civil Guard said 83 people were initially implicated in which among them were the 28 players from the ITF Futures and Challenger tours.

11 house were searched in which 167,000 euros (£151,000) in cash were seized, along with a shotgun, including more than 50 electronic devices, credit cards, five luxury vehicles and documentation related to the case.

Forty-two bank accounts have thence also been frozen.

One of those arrested is 36 year-old Spanish tennis player Marc Fornell-Mestres, who was ranked 1007th in singles at the end of 2018 and was suspended by the Tennis Integrity Unit last month as part of an anti-corruption probe.

Spain Civil Guard also said one of the players implicated in the investigation competed at last year's US Open.

Europol said in a statement that, "The suspects bribed professional players to guarantee predetermined results and used the identities of thousands of citizens to bet on the pre-arranged games."

"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.

The Civil Guard added that "once they got the bribe, the Armenian members went to the places where the matches were being played to make sure the player went through with what they had agreed, making the most of their imposing size".

"Fifteen people have been detained, among them the leaders of the organisation, and 68 others have been investigated."

This organisation have been operating since at least February 2017, says Europol and at least 97 ITF Futures and Challenger matches had been fixed.

The investigation started in 2017 after the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) grew concerned about irregular activities relating to pre-arranged matches in the tournaments.

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