Tennis and football constituted 86 per cent of the 267 cases of suspicious betting reported by the European Sport Security Association in 2018 ©ESSA

Tennis and football constituted 86 per cent of the 267 cases of suspicious betting reported by the European Sport Security Association (ESSA) in 2018.

The international betting integrity body has revealed that there were 178 alerts in tennis and 52 in football.

In an interesting development, there was an increased number of esports alerts with seven in all.

They have not been allocated to a country as the ESSA says it is not always clear where an esports event has been hosted.

Geographically, Europe maintained its position as the primary location of sporting events on which alerts have been generated, totalling 148 in 2018, with Asia continuing to fill second spot with 48 alerts.

"ESSA's alerts remain an important barometer for gauging betting-related corruption globally," Khalid Ali, secretary general of the ESSA, said.

"Outside of tennis and football, we are beginning to see new threats emerging such as the increased number of alerts on esports."

He added: "Given the multi-jurisdictional nature of match-fixing, regulators around the world are now beginning to make it a requirement for operators to be part of an international monitoring system, which we fully support."

It has also been announced that Jon Russell, global head of trading at Betway, has taken over as the ESSA’s new chair.

"I would like to thank the previous chair, Heike Mayer, for her valuable contribution to ESSA and its members over the last couple of years," he said.

"The Association took on a new focus and direction during Heike’s tenure and I will be seeking to work with my Board colleagues and the wider membership to build upon on the success of that approach and the positive impact that it has had."

Russell added: "The year ahead is expected to pose new challenges and opportunities for the sector and ESSA is setting out a clear plan of action to ensure that its members are best placed to meet those.

"Indeed, being part of a collective global monitoring network has never been of greater importance from both a business and integrity perspective, and I call upon all responsible operators to join us in ESSA."

The ESSA holds positions on high-level betting policy forums at the European Commission, Council of Europe and the International Olympic Committee, and is driving a number of important initiatives aimed at addressing match-fixing.

It has frequently listed tennis as the sport with the most suspicious betting alerts in its reports.

Many believe the problem is due to the lack of prize money on offer outside of the sport's elite tier, a situation the International Tennis Federation is working to address by cutting down the number of professionals.

Last month, it was revealed that 28 professional tennis players are being investigated by Spanish police for alleged match-fixing, including a player who competed at the 2018 US Open. 

Europol, the European Union law enforcement agency, released a statement detailing the "dismantling" of an Armenian organised crime group, that bribed tennis players for betting purposes, by the Spanish Civil Guard.

In total, 83 suspects were arrested, with 28 of these professional tennis players.

The names of those arrested have not yet been disclosed, but it has been widely reported that one player participated in last September's US Open.