Tunisian tennis player being probed for not playing Israeli

(JTA) – A Tunisian player allegedly pulled out of a tennis tournament rather than face an Israeli on orders from his country’s tennis federation.

Malek Jaziri officially said Friday that a knee injury forced him to quit the Tashkent Challenger in Uzbekistan before his quarterfinals match against Amir Weintraub.

But Jaziri’s brother Amir told the French news agency AFP that he pulled out under orders from the Tunisian Tennis Federation not to play an Israeli. An email ordering Jaziri to pull out of the match was published by Tunisia’s state news agency, according to The Associated Press.

The Tunisian Sports and Youth Ministry told AFP that it does not make such demands on its players.

Simon Higson, a spokesman for the Association of Tennis Professionals, the tournament’s organizer, said the ATP was investigating along with the International Tennis Federation.

“There’s a clear distinction between the ATP’s jurisdiction over players and the ITF’s over federations,” Higson said. “We are looking into the specific circumstances of the case together with the ITF and will act accordingly.”

Jaziri and Weintraub train at the Sarcelles Tennis club in France and have known each other for several years. Weintraub told The Jerusalem Post that Jaziri is “a good friend” and that “he really wanted to play.”

Weinraub lost Saturday in the semifinals to Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia.

It is believed to be the first time that a player has refused to play against an Israeli in international tennis play, according to reports.

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