Jaziri escapes ATP sanctions for Tashkent withdrawal
The ATP has cleared Arab No1 tennis player Malek Jaziri of any “wrongdoing” following his withdrawal from a match in Tashkent against Israel’s Amir Weintraub last week, a statement has confirmed.
Last Friday, Tunisian Jaziri was scheduled to face Weintraub in the quarter-final of the Challenge Tour event, but pulled out prior to the contest upon receiving an email from the Tunisian Tennis Federation ordering him not to play.
Jaziri, who was also carrying a knee injury at the time and cited the problem as the reason for his withdrawal, was concerned he would face career-damaging repercussions for pulling out, according to his brother Amir Jaziri.
However, following an investigation, the ATP has relieved Jaziri of any culpability, although the International Tennis Federation (ITF) is still looking into the matter.
"We have found no wrongdoing on the part of the player and all of the information we have gathered has been passed on to the ITF," the statement said.
ITF spokeswoman Barbara Travers said its investigation of the alleged forced pullout was ongoing.
"The ITF takes any matter regarding discrimination very seriously and this incident will be discussed by the ITF Board of Directors at its regularly scheduled meeting on 31 October — 1 November in Cagliari, Italy," Travers wrote in an email published by USA Today.
"We have asked the Federation Tunisienne de Tennis to make any relevant submissions to the ITF ahead of that meeting."
If the Tunisian federation is found guilty of any wrongdoing, it could face possible punishment from the ITF, including a suspension from the Davis Cup and even future Olympics.
Jaziri's withdrawal was first brought to public attention by his brother, Amir, after he spoke on Tunisian radio about the situation the world No165 had become engulfed in.
Amir revealed that an email had been sent by the Tunisian Tennis Federation ordering Malek to withdraw from the tournament.
"Following a meeting this afternoon with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, I have the immense regret to inform you that you are ordered not to play against the Israeli player," the federation's email reportedly said.
Jaziri also had to contend with threatening messages on various social media outlets, warning him not to play the match.
Sport360's tennis expert Reem Abulleil explained: "Besides the pressure from the federation, Jaziri was also under a lot of pressure from scores of Tunisians, who trolled his Facebook page the second they found out he might play an Israeli.
"Considering he and his family live in Tunisia – a country that until this day remains unstable and unsafe after the revolution – it is not easy to ignore such angry hate comments bearing in mind that his own safety along with his family’s could be jeopardised."