IMG's Forstmann Says Federer Bet Was `Bad Judgment'
Ted Forstmann was told by the men’s tennis tour not to violate its gambling rules after he acknowledged making a $40,000 wager on Roger Federer, a client of his company, to beat Rafael Nadal in the 2007 French Open final.
Forstmann, the chief executive officer of IMG Worldwide Inc., the sports agency that represents athletes including golfer Tiger Woods and Federer, said in an interview that he regretted betting on Federer to win the match against Nadal, also an IMG client. Federer lost the final.
“The ATP has sent the message very clearly to Mr. Forstmann that we consider his behavior inappropriate and that he will be in violation of the rules if he engages in such activity in the future,” the ATP said.
Jim Gallagher, a spokesman at IMG, said in a telephone interview that the ATP statement and an earlier one from the Tennis Integrity Unit of the International Tennis Federation “both speak for themselves.”
Forstmann’s bet, which was criticized by Federer, may form part of a lawsuit that accuses the executive of using company funds to cover gambling losses, the New York Times said. Forstmann denies wrongdoing and said the bet was legal.
“It was bad judgment,” Forstmann said of the bet in an interview with Erik Schatzker on Bloomberg Television’s “Inside Track.” “I would have been rooting for him just as hard had I had no money on him at all.”
No More Bets
The wager was “a bet on a friend,” said the 70-year-old Forstmann. Bets at tournaments such as Wimbledon are “very standard,” Forstmann said, adding that the wager on Federer was “probably” the last one he’d made in sports.
“I don’t anymore, and I haven’t for three years,” he said.
Forstmann’s wager was made before the International Tennis Federation’s anti-corruption program came into force in 2009. The rules prevent any “covered person” from placing bets on the outcome of a match.
A “covered person” refers to a player, related person such as a coach, trainer, therapist, physician, management representative, agent, family member, tournament guest, or business associate as well as tournament support personnel, according to the ITF.
The anti-corruption unit questioned Forstmann about betting on Federer, Mark Harrison, a spokesman for the London-based agency, said in an e-mail today.
“Forstmann has confirmed that he understands and accepts this and advised that he has not gambled on tennis since the uniform tennis anti-corruption program came into effect,” Harrison said.
Federer said it was “disappointing” to be linked to an incident he had no control over or involvement in.
“It’s a bad thing that people who might be closer to the game are betting on our sport,” the 29-year-old Swiss right- hander said. “But you can’t control sometimes what other people do. All I can do is, myself and my team, make sure we don’t do anything that’s not allowed.”
Federer said he contacted Forstmann for an explanation and had received some “straight answers.”
Federer is represented at IMG by his long-time agent, Tony Godsick and stressed that Forstmann is “not my agent.”
“He’s head of IMG,” the player said. “He owns the company and I’m sure he’s learned his lesson through that.”
The lawsuit, which accuses Forstmann of fraud, interference with contract and breach of contract, is being brought in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Agate Printing Inc., whose CEO, Jim Agate, is seeking damages for lost business, the Times said.
Forstmann, worth $1.6 billion according to Forbes Magazine, also said he doesn’t see IMG dropping Woods as a client.
“We’re his agent, we’re not his caretaker,” Forstmann said. “We’re supposed to arrange sponsorships for him.”
Woods’s income from sponsors has slumped by $22 million to $70 million since November 2009, Sports Illustrated said on July 21.
The 14-time major golf champion lost endorsements including Accenture Plc, AT&T Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co.’s Gillette razors during a turbulent 12 months that began with a single-car accident outside his Florida home in the early hours of Nov. 27.
Since then, Woods has admitted to repeated marital infidelity, leading to his divorce, and took almost five months away from the game, losing the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking that he held for a record 281 consecutive weeks.
His swing coach, Hank Haney, quit and Woods hasn’t won a tournament this year, his worst run as a professional. This week, Woods is in Melbourne trying to retain the only title he still holds, the Australian Masters.