Graf fees in breach of WTA rules

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The Independent Online

The German tennis federation, the DTB, admitted yesterday it had paid Steffi Graf, the world No 1, appearance money, a practice which is banned by the women's tour.

Gunter Sanders, the DTB general secretary, was giving evidence to the court trying Graf's father, Peter, on charges of tax evasion. Sanders told the court, trying to establish how much money was funnelled abroad out of the reach of tax authorities, that Peter Graf had been paid between $150,000 (pounds 100,000) and $270,000 a year for "services and advertising'' in connection with federation-run events in Hamburg and Berlin between 1990 and 1993.

Asked if this was mostly money paid to ensure the tournaments had a big- name attraction, Sanders replied "Yes''.

The news weekly Der Spiegel said at the weekend the widespread payment of appearance money to all top women players was an open secret.

It said Steffi Graf and the joint world No 1, Monica Seles, each commanded between $30,000 and $400,000 to play in an event, depending on its size, with players ranked down to No 13 receiving correspondingly less.

The anecdotal examples cited by Der Spiegel from records produced in connection with Peter Graf's trial added up to a total of well over $2m in appearance payments.