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They ask, 'Are you interested in not feeling well in a certain match?'

All tennis players are approached to throw matches, says Israel’s No. 2

There’s not a single player, all the way up to Djokovic, who hasn’t been sounded out, claims Amir Weintraub

Amir Weintraub (Howard Blas/Times of Israel)
Amir Weintraub (Howard Blas/Times of Israel)

Israel’s No. 2 ranked tennis player said Wednesday that efforts to bribe tennis players to throw matches are pervasive throughout the sport, and that every player — from the lowest-ranked all the way to the highest — has been approached.

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 television, Amir Weintraub, who is currently ranked at No. 222 in the world, said players at his level and below struggle to make a living in the sport, and would not manage financially without sponsors’ assistance, wealthy parents, or other outside help.

By contrast, “what you can earn from throwing a single match, you wouldn’t earn in a year as someone of my ranking,” he said.

Weintraub, 30, who has earned some $440,000 in his career and had a career-high ranking of 161 in 2012, indicated that he had been approached repeatedly early in his career and made clear he had firmly rejected the attempts to bribe him.

Amir Weintraub (Dotan Doron / Wikipedia)
Amir Weintraub (Dotan Doron/Wikipedia)

“At the beginning, people come to you, week in, week out,” he said, “especially in countries like Russia, wherever.” However, he added, “after a week, two weeks, three weeks, when you say ‘No, no, no,’ they stop.”

Weintraub, who will represent Israel in a home Davis Cup tie against Sweden on Friday, said that there was “not a single player,” from those ranked 1,500, “all the way to the world’s top ranked player, like (Serbia’s Novak) Djokovic, who hasn’t been approached.”

Asked by his interviewer how the would-be bribers would word their approaches when they called, Weintraub said they’d ask, “Are you interested in not feeling well in a certain match?”

Tennis player Amir Weintraub, interviewed by Channel 2 on October 26 (Channel 2 screenshot)
Tennis player Amir Weintraub, interviewed by Channel 2 on October 26 (Channel 2 screenshot)

In a Facebook post earlier this month, Weintraub went into great detail about how tough life is in the lower rungs of professional tennis, stressing that while the tennis authorities “won’t like it… it’s not something personal against them, it’s more like a cry for the sport that I love so much.” He wrote: “The bottom line is we the players outside the first 100 are pawns for the top ranked players and we are disposable, as simple as that… To be a tennis player is a financial loss, period. If you are not in the Top 100 you lose no matter how you roll it.”

Weintraub, noted Channel 2, has been using his Facebook page to highlight some of the ignominies of his professional career, including an endless routine of planes, hotels and matches… when he can afford the hotels. In an earlier Facebook post, last month, Weintraub asked, “Instead of me sleeping in the airport bench does anyone know someone in Hong Kong for one night?”

He told Channel 2 he spends $40,000-45,000 a year on flights, more on hotels, and pays 30% tax on the approximately $500-700 he makes per match. “A player of my ranking,” he said, “loses money — no question about it.”

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