French tennis overwhelmed by a game of match-fixing

On Tuesday, four tennis players were arrested, as part of a European investigation involving matches arranged and online bets in the secondary circuit. According to newspaper information Team, the case could become more widespread and "Forty French professional players would be in the crosshairs of justice".

Never ranked above the 300e world place, even at the best of their careers, Yannick Thivant (31 years old), Jérôme Inzerillo (28 years old), Jules Okala (21 years old) and Mick Lescure (25 years old) were placed in custody before being put back into freedom Wednesday night. The last two were about to participate in the Future tournament of Bressuire (Deux-Sèvres). The Future circuit is the third division of tennis, where the winners pocket a few hundred euros; the majority of players do not even earn enough to pay for their trip and hotel. These trimmers of tennis are the favorite target of matchmakers who pocket crazy sums by betting online matches they have ensured the result by paying one or more protagonists to lose such a game, such set, or the match.

Often complicated end of the month

The sports daily explains that the four tennis players are suspected of having thus agreed to voluntarily lose service games, sets and even games in Challenger tournaments (2e division) and Future (3e division). Still according to the information of Team, one of them, Mick Lescure, would have confessed to the police of the central service of racing and games (SCCJ). Since 2015, the player has admitted to having let slip between 20 and 30 matches, both singles and doubles, for an estimated gain of 30,000 euros.

Launched in 2015, by a Belgian investigating judge, the investigation had already confirmed that sums between 500 and 3 500 euros had been proposed to dozens of professional players in order to lose a match. Sums able to make flinch of tennis players for the purpose of often complicated months. Far from the comfortable gains of the professional circuit (in 2018, a defeat in the first round at Roland Garros reported 40 000 euros), the daily is often difficult beyond the 200e world place. In Bressuire, where the total endowment of the Future tournament reaches 15,000 euros, the winner will leave this year with around 2,000 euros. A fairly small amount when we know that players have to pay a lot of fees: accommodation, transport ...

"They break their career for three francs, six sous"

"It's stupid for these young players, they break their career for three francs six sous," regrets Alain Moreau, the director of the two-seventh tournament. The situation is not new for the leader who also holds the position of vice-president of the French Tennis Federation, in charge of international competitions. "For three, four years we have seen short-siders appear in the stands of the Bressuire tournament. These are people who bet very quickly on matches by enjoying the small amount of time that exists between the score of the match live and its update on the site of paris. In addition to providing information on games, these individuals often have cash in their pockets and use it to try to buy some matches "explains Alain Moreau.

In June, an international police operation was carried out against a belgian-armenian mafia suspected of rigging games. Grigor Sargsyan, the alleged mastermind of the case, was arrested in Belgium before being imprisoned. Nicknamed "Maestro", the man is accused of having piloted a vast network of matches rigged on several continents. The French case breaks out less than a week after the arrest of 83 people, including 28 players, involved in matches rigged in Spain.

Nicolas Grellier