Tennis Umpires Banned for Manipulating Scores

When one or both of the players in a tennis match are fixing the game, it’s a bad time for most gamblers. However, what if it’s the umpire who is the one fixing the match?

Francesco Totaro is a National Level umpire in Italy. He’s just been given a provisional suspension. That will be in force pending an investigation into alleged match fixing. The suspension has been made by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) under section F3 of the 2022 Tennis Anti-Corruption Program.

The umpire will not be able to officiate or attend an tennis event that has been organised by an international governing body or national association. This will be the case until the full disciplinary procedure has been fully completed.

This suspension comes just days after three Tunisian umpires were given multi-year bans. Mohamed Ghassen Snene, Abderahim Gharsallah and Majd Affi were the guilty trio and it was found they had manipulated scores.

Affi, who had been officiating as a green badge chair umpire received the longest ban, one of 20 years. He was found guilty of 12 charges relating to matches played between 2017 and 2020.
The other two were banned for seven years. They had been found guilty of four charges, all regarding a tournament held in Tunisia two years ago.

The bans were backdated to 6 November 2020 when they were all provisionally suspended. This means Mr Affi’s ban will run until 5 November, 2040. It’ll be November 2027 when the other two will see their bans end.

The ban means they can no longer officiate at tennis events that are authorised or sanctioned by all international tennis bodies or national association.

The trio were found guilty of manipulating the scores that were being inputted into their electronic scoring devices. This information did not reflect what was actually happening on the court.

These offences occurred in the lower levels of the game. However, last week saw claims made that Nikoloz Basilashvili and Aslan Karatsev (both in the world’s top 50) had both been offered money to fix matches.

The allegations were made by the German broadcaster ZDF. They questioned a men’s doubles match at the 2021 Wimbledon tournament that featured Basilashvili. He partnered Radu Albot and lost in three sets to Stefano Travaglia and Marton Fucsovics.

It’s believed that there were suspicious betting patterns with high bets of up to £423,000 being made. All a bit strange for a men’s doubles match. Basilashvili has denied any wrongdoings. The Georgian said that the accusations “have no basis.” He added: “I will not accept that my reputation is damaged by unfounded and absurd accusations.”

Aslan Karatsev (a semi-finalist at the 2021 Australian Open) was also included in the report. It said there had been five of his matches that had unusually high betting swings.” Two of the matches were played at a time when he was being coached by Jahor Jacik, who also has links with Basilashvili.

In 2020, Jacik and Karatsev were reportedly the subject of a police investigation at the French Open, though no charges were made. There were also reports that Karatsev was part of match-fixing at the 2022 Stuttgart Open but the Russian has denied all the accusations.