Italian tennis player Daniele Bracciali partially admitted to match-fixing during a hearing last week with judicial authorities, a prosecutor said on Wednesday.
“He admitted a few things and he denied a few things” Italian investigator Roberto Di Martino told The Associated Press.
Bracciali and occasional doubles partner Potito Starace face corruption accusations after intercepted Internet conversations claiming they sold matches were printed in Italian media three weeks ago.
Bracciali and Starace were already two of five Italians – along with Alessio Di Mauro, Giorgio Galimberti and Federico Luzzi – who were given suspensions in 2007-08 by the ATP Tour ranging from six weeks to nine months for betting.
The intercepted comments are part of data that investigators led by Di Martino in Cremona have been sorting through in a soccer match-fixing inquiry. The roots of the soccer inquiry led to Singapore, and the tennis branch of the investigation is also extending beyond borders.
“The reality is it’s the same story as with the football case,” Di Martino said. “It’s reached a level where it’s all over the world.”
The Last Bet operation has resulted in more than 100 people placed under investigation in Italy since mid-2011, with suspect soccer matches being looked at by prosecutors in Cremona, Bari and Naples.
Di Martino would not confirm or deny reports that former Swedish tennis player Tomas Nydahl is also under investigation for recruiting players to fix matches.
“I can’t say. I don’t know where he is,” Di Martino said of the 46-year-old Nydahl, who reached a career-high ranking of No 72 in 1998.
Di Martino said no other foreign tennis players are involved.
In a July 2007 conversation on Skype between Bracciali and an accountant who was arrested in 2011, Bracciali discussed arranging a match in Newport, Rhode Island, against American player Scoville Jenkins. Jenkins won 6-2, 6-1.
In 2011, an owner of a betting parlor who was later arrested was heard saying Starace agreed to sell the final of a tournament in Casablanca. Pablo Andujar of Spain won the final 6-1, 6-2.
Di Martino, who previously confirmed to The AP the authenticity of the conversations, said he couldn’t provide more details of Bracciali’s hearing because the transcript remained confidential. He added that hearings with Starace and retired Italian player Mara Santangelo, who was also mentioned in the intercepted conversations, would likely be held soon.
The 36-year-old Bracciali is a doubles specialist while the 33-year-old Starace is ranked 166th in singles. Neither player has competed since they lost as a pair in the doubles quarterfinals of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow the week that the intercepted conversations were published.
Bracciali, Starace and Santangelo have not commented publicly on the allegations.
In other cases of match-fixing in tennis, life bans were handed to Daniel Koellerer of Austria in 2011, David Savic of Serbia in 2012, and Andrey Kumantsov of Russia this year.
In July, one man was charged and five others arrested in an Australian police operation against an international tennis match-fixing syndicate.
While statutes of limitations may be an issue in sports courts, the president of the Italian tennis federation has promised that the latest cases will be dealt with severely if they are proved true