|In a landmark ruling, a Belgian court has thrown out a complaint brought by the French Tennis Federation (FFT) seeking to prevent online gambling groups such as Bwin, Ladbrokes and Betfair from taking bets on the French Open and the Paris Masters 2008.|
The Federation organises tournaments such as the French Open at Roland Garros and sued after a spate of incidents led to players being accused of match-fixing. It claimed that the presence of betting markets exploited ‘the name, reputation and renown’ of the French Open and Paris Masters tournaments.
'The plaintiff is asking for, on the one hand, a total ban on online betting taken by the Belgian public on the 2008 Roland Garros tournament and the Paris Masters 2008 and, on the other hand, the annulment and reimbursement of bets already taken by Belgian residents,' read the lawsuit.
The FFT cited the case of Nicolai Davydenko, who was investigated last year after being accused of dropping out of a match in Poland against an inferior opponent, but the bookmakers countered with the argument that they had no control over what players did.
''Fixed' matches, as far as these may be established, are not down to what the bookmaker has done but down to the 'manipulations' or 'attempts at corruption' of certain players with whom the bookmaker has no links at all,' read the brief from lawyers for the bookmakers.
'Someone who offers a service cannot be rendered responsible for an inappropriate use of that service if he has taken steps to prevent such inappropriate use.'
The FFT must now fight a counterclaim from Bwin in Paris, who is suing for damages as a result of the Federation’s claims that its actions facilitated fraud.