ITF to look into Fatma’s complaint over racist mistreatment

Muscat: Oman’s tennis star Fatma al Nabhani has said that she has received a mail from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) promising to look into the matter regarding the racist mistreatment she faced at a tournament in France recently.
Fatma spoke to the Observer revealed the ITF had responded to her complaint about the mistreatment and racist behaviour by the French officials.
“I have received a mail from the ITF and they have said they are sorry for the way I was treated. They said they are taking the matter very seriously and will be investigating what happened during the match in detail,’’ Fatma stated.
The incident Fatma had to face occurred during the first round match of the $25k ITF tournament held in Clermond-Ferrand in France where she retired mid-way through the third set.
Prior to the first round game against Elsa Jacquemot of France, Fatma was told by the chair umpire to remove her leggings before the match which Fatma strongly objected to.
The Omani star, who has been active on the professional circuit for 12 years, then told the chair umpire to check with the tournament director before saying anything.
“The tournament director clearly told him (umpire) that the ITF rules allow for leggings till the length of the knee. But the umpire still told me to pull the leggings up and I did it by one inch and then he said some more and I pulled it by one more inch,’’ she added.
What made it worse for Fatma was when she was asked as to why she was wearing the leggings by the chair umpire.
“After the umpire told me to remove the leggings, he asked me if I am wearing the leggings because of my religion and I said yes. The kind of questions they were asking was just not fair and ridiculous,’’ Fatma revealed.
Apart from the leggings issue, Fatma was at the receiving end of racist behavior from the umpire and the player.
“They (umpire and player) would talk and laugh during changeover in French and since there were no ball boys, my opponent would just refuse to pick the balls on her side of the court and throw it out. She would throw a ball on the net just to distract me and I complained to the umpire.
Since the umpire was not willing to take a decision, I requested him to call the tournament director and there again he refused me my right to talk to the tournament director,’’ she added.
Fatma revealed that the chair umpire was biased in the fact that he even overruled the linesman’s decision when it came to points.