Monday, August 18, 2014

FABIO FOGNINI AND THE WTA PLAYER COUNCIL

 by Karen 

I don’t take advertising on my blog.  I don’t solicit, neither do I try to up my numbers on my blog by having people pay to advertise on my blog.  I have a really good job that pays well.  I did think about moving my blog from blogspot over to Wordpress or Typepad, but seeing that it would cost me money to do so, and seeing as I really wanted to keep the independence of my blog be my hallmark, I decided not to. 

I don’t get press passes, neither have I ever asked for one. I don’t pretend to be a tennis guru. The only reason why I blog is because sometimes you see a lot of really crap things being said and done to women’s tennis and rather than vent my frustrations on other people’s blogs, I thought it would be a good idea to have my own.

That being said, the fact that I have a lot of people who rely on me for accurate information makes me view my little blog as more than just my personal space in which to air my views.  I take into consideration that not everyone who reads my blog will agree with me.  I also realise that with a blog I can’t really put aside my own personal convictions just to be running with the herd, i.e. developing a sheep mentality.

I have noticed recently that many of the blogs and tennis writers that I follow have developed a bit of a sheep mentality.  If there is condemnation of Player A then everyone jumps on the bandwagon and condemns Player A.  There is a narrative that fits every single player and I wish that bloggers, tennis writers, and commentators would throw the script out the window and just tell us what they really think.  I say this because of what I view as one of the more serious events that have occurred in recent times, and the lack of outrage about it, and I think this lack of outrage stems from the fact that a lot of bloggers and tennis writers out there are answering to people other than themselves. 

Fabio Fognini, that model of ATP consistency, showed us again why some players should never be handed a microphone and should really continue to be ignored.  When people actually started to pay attention to Fognini rather than asking who is he, it was more about his so-called antics on court, rather than his game.  At first everyone was all about bringing character to the exceedingly boring game of men’s tennis.  The consensus amongst tennis people was he is a character and that is just Fabio being Fabio. 

Fognini has proceeded to turn that narrative on its end by engaging in behaviour that in my view should be considered “bringing the sport into disrepute” and therefore either another hefty fine, or a suspension needs to be meted out by the ATP World Tour.  From arguing incessantly with tournament officials, to name calling his opponent a racial slur, to actually threatening an official, to actually carrying out said threat by putting his hand on an umpire, Fognini has showed us exactly what he is made of.

As if that was not enough, Fognini has decided to turn it up a notch by bringing his own brand of character to social media.  During a match between his alleged girlfriend Flavia Pennetta and World No.1, Serena Williams, one of Fognini’s followers tweeted a sexist slur that implied that Fognini should be upset seeing as his alleged girlfriend was playing a man.  Fognini, clearly someone who does not have 2 brain cells to rub together proceeded to retweet said tweet.  If you are not sure what retweeting a tweet is, it means that you either agree with the tweet of the person and therefore endorsing it for the world to see.  

The silence on my timeline is deafening.  The usual outcries that accompany comments by others has been met with virtual silence.  If there has been condemnation by the ATP Tour or by those in the commentary booth, I have not seen or heard it. 

A friend of mine wrote to me recently and said when will the ATP Tour rein in Fognini?  She asked whether he would have to use some type of racist or sexist slur before someone, anyone in authority actually does something.  It seems as if now that the sexist slur has occurred, the ATP has still not done anything.  While the excuse may well be made that Fognini did not actually type the offensive tweet, the fact that he chose to Retweet it, thereby endorsing the sentiment is of itself even worse.  He should have used his position as a member of the men’s tour to condemn the comment by his follower and then ensured that said follower’s sexist slur was not repeated on his timeline. 


I understand that sometime this afternoon Fognini had recalled the retweet.  Clearly, someone who is possibly paying attention informed him that what he had written was inappropriate.  However, what galls me is that none of the usual suspects who cover tennis have deemed it fit to call Fognini out publicly about this type of behaviour.  I have read through the transcripts of his press conferences and I may have missed it but I have not seen where he is being condemned for his very bad behaviour.  He has recently been fined by the All England Club for his behaviour at Wimbledon, but one wonders when will the ATP do something about him. 

UPDATED:   Since writing the above, I have recently seen where SportScribe has written an article condemning the incident.  The article was retweeted by Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated and I therefore take that to mean that not only has someone in the media aware of this but they, by retweeting SportScribe's article is also joining in condemning Fognini's behaviour.  The link to SportScribe's article is here

WTA Player Council 

I don't know how many of you follow ASAP Sports on Twitter, but I do.  I follow them so that I can get links to press conferences to read for myself the exact words.  At the recent Western & Southern Open, after that really good match between Sam Stosur  and Serena Williams, I was interested to read each woman's thoughts on the match.  Imagine my shock when I read through Stosur's press transcript and found out that she sits on the WTA Player Council. I thought to myself, well this is interesting, I wonder what the WTA Player Council has been up to.  I was not disappointed because the journalist who asked the initial question, decided to continue with his/her line of enquiry. The link to the presser is here.  The part of the interview that I found interesting is that in the 3 questions that Stosur was asked about her work and the work of the Player Council she does not give any ifnormation as to what it is that the Player Council does.  The fact that the journalist in question started off by comparing the visibility of the ATP Player Council showed the direction in which the journalist was heading, i.e. the visibility/lack of visibility of both Tours' Player Council.  

Q.  Just a question from left field.  We hear quite a lot about the ATP players council, but we don't hear much about the WTA players council.  I understand you're one of the leaders of the council. 

SAMANTHA STOSUR:  Well, I'm on the council. 

Q.  So just wondering how you feel about your role in the WTA players council. 

SAMANTHA STOSUR:  Oh, I'm glad I got on the council.  I've done it for two years now.
Hopefully I will get on it for another two years.  I have enjoyed I guess being part of what is going on.  It is important to our tour, and I think if you can have a little bit of influence and I guess take what all the players feel to these meetings and to discuss it, then I think it's a great thing.
As for whether you hear more about the ATP or WTA, I don't know.  I guess maybe they're a little bit more outspoken.  We just get it done quietly and do what we need to do.

Q.  What are some of the recent things that you have been discussing or working on?

SAMANTHA STOSUR:  Oh, things are always changing with what's a, I guess, topic of discussion.  But, look, there's lots and lots of topics and lots of things that are getting‑‑ you can't change in one day.  It's going to take a little bit of time. I guess you guys will be able to see maybe what they are in the near future.


Q.  Is this a type of social activism like where you're able to be involved?

SAMANTHA STOSUR:  No, not necessarily.  I just got nominated a couple of years ago and thought it would be interesting to be on it.
You know, I love playing tennis.  I like being a part of it.  I kind of thought, Well, you know what?  If you can be involved in other ways...
I often talk about it anyway.  If you're going to talk about it, why not talk about it in a forum that might actually be able to go somewhere.
Yeah, I think it's a nice thing to be a part of.  You learn how businesses work and what goes on and, yeah, maybe be able to take some views from other players in there and maybe make a difference. 

I too remain in the dark about exactly what the WTA Player Council does.  I don't know who are the members. I don't know when they have meetings and I certainly don't know when they have elections.  In many interviews that are conducted on the men's side, you hear questions being asked about what, if anything the Player Council will be doing to address certain issues.  It could be that the women are never asked these pointed questions, but I think Stosur had a great opportunity to expand on the work of the WTA Player Council and she failed and/or neglected to do so.  

The incident above with Fognini is one that should be roundly condemned by the WTA Player Council in the form of a press release and a statement issued that the WTA hopes that the ATP will sanction the player for bringing the sport into disrepute.  


1 comment:

Peg said...

Karen, the current council members (AFAIK) are Safarova, Stosur, S. Williams, V. Williams, Hlavackova, Schiavone, Amanmuradova, and Mattek-Sands. The next elections are at USO, I believe, and the positions are rankings-based, so there will certainly be some cycling in/out of reps.

Before I left for Cincy, I realized I needed to learn more about the council myself. I haven't had time to pursue and peruse more than a few pieces, but fwiw, here is an article Paula Vergara wrote about the council a couple of years ago: http://paula-vergara.blogspot.com/2009/04/women-who-serve-inside-look-at-wta.html

And here is a decision the council was involved with late last year:
http://www.10sballs.com/2013/01/17/wta-players-council-didnt-make-an-exception-for-radwanska/