If anything surprised me about the accusations of match fixing in tennis, it was that the governing body, the APT, seemed so unprepared to deal with them.The current grim reality of sport has been very publicly exposed recently through the actual and alleged corruption at FIFA and the IAAF, and if that was happening in your industry, you would take a long hard look at yourself.
Plenty of sports fans were wondering ‘where next’?
The fact, too, that it has often been media-led investigations bringing the greatest scrutiny on to sporting bodies, would make most chief executives raise the ‘business-risk’ level a notch of two.
The APT should have heeded the warning signs and tested if and where they might have weaknesses. Having faced claims of match-fixing in the past, it does not take a huge leap of imagination that this was where they were vulnerable.
It’s not about owning up to infringements past or present. It is about having a firm grip on what has happened and what was the response; knowing the negative and the positive; and identifying the friends and supporters who would speak for the organisation as well as the potential detractors.
It is something that the APT didn’t appear to do. If they had, maybe tennis fans would be far more reassured by a governing body that was seen to be resolute and in control of the situation. In the end, it took over a week to announce a proper response.
Sadly, the fact that the APT were caught off-guard meant that individual players found themselves targeted and left to defend themselves, harbouring, I suspect, future problems for the APT.
The APT may not be in the same bracket as FIFA, but it still may be a long way back for the tennis association – all for not getting their ducks in a row and being better prepared.