Google Down the Line!: (UPDATED) A-Rod to skip Dubai over Shahar controversy, will not defend title

Saturday, February 21, 2009

(UPDATED) A-Rod to skip Dubai over Shahar controversy, will not defend title

Andy Roddick will not be defending his Dubai title next week in protest of the UAE's actions against Shahar Peer.

The American, who reached the semifinals in Memphis by defeating compatriot Sam Querrey 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, had a brilliant week last season in Dubai defeating Rafael Nadal + Novak Djokovic on his way to the title. But he expressed disappointment with their decision saying,

There were a lot of factors why I should probably go, and obviously having played well there doesn’t make it any easier.

I don’t think you make political statements through sports.
A-Rod said he'll also be able to better prepare for the Davis Cup tie versus Switzerland taking place in Alabama by not traveling to Dubai.

This move is pretty surprising especially from the defending champ of the tourney. And, it's great to see someone take a big stand in the middle of all that money, particularly someone from the ATP.

I wonder why some of the ladies didn't do the same?

UPDATE: The WTA has fined the Dubai tourney a record $300,000 (more than double the largest fine last levied) for their actions against Shahar. The monies will be divided between the Israeli ($42,250 plus 130 ranking points) and doubles partner Anna-Lena Groenefeld ($7,950) to compensate for the prize money they could've won. The balance will go to a charity chosen by Shahar and Tour's.

Additionally, the Tour "was requiring the organizers to post a $2 million performance guarantee -- something normally not required by established, financially sound events like the Dubai Tennis Championships."

And the following conditions must be met in order for Dubai to remain on the calendar for 2010:

- Confirmation of the written assurances already received that all players who qualify for the tournament shall, regardless of nationality, or any other reason, be allowed to play in the Dubai event and shall be issued entry visas or permits

- Proof of approved UAE entry permit to enter the UAE for any Israeli player a minimum of eight weeks prior to the start of the 2010 Dubai tournament

- Guarantee that Shahar shall be offered a wildcard to play the Dubai tournament in 2010 in the event that she does not qualify by ranking.

WTF? Please tell me this slap on the wrist (and slap in the face to Shahar) for one of the richest tourneys is not the end of the sanctions. TELL ME IT'S NOT THE END. This money is pocket change for them.

It's not enough. Based on WTA policy Dubai can, and should, be removed from the calendar for their actions. The damage has already been done. This is a joke and Larry Scott should be ashamed.

UPDATE #2: Dubai tourney Managing Director Colm McLoughlin says A-Rod has withdrawn due to a hernia. A-Rod rebuffs. I think he'd know about his own hernia Colm. Nice try though.

(image via Getty)


  1. If that's the real reason, I applaud the decision. But it is a bit surprising since they have allowed Ram to play, so I dont' know...I mean, that doesn't make what they did with Peer ok and it deserves some punishment and even a ban...but, still, it would've been more natural some of the ladies did it..
    just saying...

  2. Well at least someone's taking a stand! You go, Andy.

  3. "I don’t think you make political statements through sports."

    Well, you just did.

  4. You quote Roddick as saying: "I don't think you make political statements through sports." So why on earth is he choosing to make one!?

    I on the other hand DO believe in political statements can be made through sport but not directed at individuals; it is Israel's national sports squads (Davis Cup and Fed Cup in tennis, for example)that should be banned by the appropriate world sports federations and the well known teams that represent them particularly in European football and basketball competitions that should be banned from international competition until Israel ceases to be a pariah and accepts international law and standards of morality.

  5. Yeah clearly A-Rod missed his own point - but I still applaud his decision. It's probably not 100% the reason why he's not traveling all the way over there from the US (he does mention being able to get more practice for Davis Cup) but it sounds like it played a big part in his decision.

    It's still more than any other individual baller on either Tour has done.

  6. WHAT A JOKE! $300,000?? They Dubai Royal family probably spend that much in a week!


  7. This is not all about politics, it's all about a fellow sportsman who gets injustice. If you were in the same situation with the thought of a sportsman seeing a fellow sportsman suffering from any sort of abuse...Wouldn't you do anything to help?

    At least this is what I see here and not politics. I give Roddick A+ for his decision. BTW, I read that it has been fixed already. Is it true?


  8. Ana: "BTW, I read that it has been fixed already."

    What did you hear had been fixed?

  9. Well done to Andy for making a stand, even if what he's saying is coming across as being somewhat contradictory. The Dubai organisers instantly politicised both tournaments by not allowing Pe'er a visa. The players who have chosen to attend have made a political point just as much as Andy has by boycotting. At least, that's the way I see it.

  10. How about some punitive damages to Peer in the amount of 1M, that would make any tournament shudder.

    BTW, according to the winner of the Dubai tournament, Venus, I thought the WTA was going to wait until Miami to gather everybody and discuss the situation.

    Obviously, the WTA has been shamed by the ATP reaction. What a shame for Women's tennis!

  11. anon 12:36 - V had mentioned a meeting at Indian Wells during a presser this week. Now, I'm not sure what they'll actually be discussing since it seems the Tour has thrown down its (measly) decision.

  12. Throwing money at the situation is not good enough...the WTA needs to take a stronger stance. Shameful..

  13. Larry Scott and the hundreds of people and players who comprise the WTA should be ashamed that ONE person did more for Shahar then they did. This is a bloody shame. GO ANDY!!!

  14. I'm not usually a Roddick fan, but somebody had to take a stand since the whole WTA is comprised of cowards, so I give him all due respect and applaud him for it. He really put Scott, et al., to shame and someone seriously needed to!

    The real disgusting thing is that the Dubai tourney is apparently claiming that Roddick withdrew for medical reasons (an alleged "start of a hernia") and not acknowledging the protest. They should be banned from the tour just based on the bologna alone!!!


  15. Ugh. For goodness sake, tennis is not the be-all, end-all of the universe and it doesn't dictate a country's pre-existing, wider politics. It's not more important than international politics.

    Get some perspective. The organisers didn't 'politicise' the tournament - the tournament is taking place IN a region that has a set of extremely tense politics, and would be bound to be affected by them.

    The WTA *knew* this, yet greedily CHOSE to walk into this situation with both eyes open.

    Ram, Peer, and the WTA would all be aware that Dubai has no diplomatic relations with Israel. Yet the tournament organisers were being asked to go against UAE policy and politics and make an *exception* for Peer and Ram - when most other Israelis would not get in on an Israeli passport (which doesn't seem to bother most people; yet there is outrage because a couple of tennis players can't get in?)

    Peer and Ram getting a waiver is the real politics at play here. They are pushing for a political change. But my questions is - why for them specifically, but not for the average Israeli citizen? Elitist much? And if you extended your argument/stand to include *all* Israelis - which would suggest a radical change in UAE immigration policy - then how would that 'not' be a profoundly political stance?

    Andy is doing nothing, other than expressing his own personal politics through the tournament, as are the other players who have chosen to play. Which is fine.

    What I can't stand however, is that while there is this disingenuous hew and cry that sport is this 'pure', apolitical entity (which is rubbish)it seems as if *some* politics are privileged and are allowed to be expressed and realised through sport - while others are wholly condemned.

    It's okay for the tennis channel to 'boycott' by refusing to screen the tournament, and okay for Roddick to shun the tournament to make a point - all of which is pointedly political. It's also okay for Peer and Ram to press for inclusion (and feign surprise that they wouldn't get into Dubai even though they LIVE in the region); it's okay for them to essentially argue that - hey - their ought to be no ramifications whatsoever for being an Israeli citizen - which is again a highly political argument to make.

    It's okay for Jewish leaders in the US (many of whom have nothing to do with sport, let alone tennis) to start demanding that the WTA "punish" the UAE. (And if that's not using sport as a political platform then I don't know what is.)

    They get to argue for their rights and express their politics, and in the main most people seem to support them.

    But had there been an actual direct boycott of Peer (who has ties to the IDF) and Ram, rather than a visa ban, that would be the 'wrong' sort of politics. And anyone who took a stand and argued about the utter lack of inclusion of Palestinian tennis players in any WTA tournament; players, who we NEVER see and certainly wouldn't get into a tournament held in Israel, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, if they live in Gaza - then it would be bad, wrong, and needlessly 'politicising' the sport and bringing in unnecessary baggage...

    Boycotting on behalf of Peer and Ram or arguing that Israeli sportspeople have the right to compete internationally = morally upright and completely political. Anybody so much as breathe the word 'Gaza' or mention the injustice that Palestinian sports people face = irrelevant and political!

  16. Rich, love you to death, but do need to disagree a bit.

    I disagree with the denial of the visa and am in some ways glad this has been such as issue this week and can hopefully lead to some teachable moments for many parties. Unlike our previous administration, I believe that talking to people who are different than you or whom you may have conflicts with is a great way to change attitudes, and I think it is admirable that Pe'er wants to be in the tournament because it obviously represents more than just playing a match.

    But the notion that politics can be separated out of anything is this region is ridiculous. Can you imagine if she had played? There would have been some fluffy little puff piece with a misty eyed Dick Enberg about this miracle breakthrough blah, blah, blah. They don't mind political stories in sports as long as it warms everyone's hearts and doesn't force anyone to look at anything uncomfortable. Which leads me to:

    The fact that lost in this conversation has been any perspective on the very real issues that exist because of the actions of Israel. While I realize there is a ton of culpability to go around, this notion that Israel is some poor little nerdy kid getting kicked around is laughable. It is more than a bit naive to expect an Arab nation no doubt still unsettled over the Gaza offensive just last month that killed 1,300 Palestinians to welcome with open arms a person who is currently serving in the very military (of course administrative duties and of course mandatory, but still) that killed the aforementioned 1,300 Palestinians! Given the amount of strife that this incident has caused in the Middle East (hell, all over the world), it isn't to difficult to imagine that the organizers in UAE were more than a little concerned about Pe'er's safety. As someone who yearns for peace and social justice and is extremely sensitive to news of the violence from this region, it just floors me that this much public outcry never seems to spring up (at least in the US) towards the gross abuses committed by Israel. In the grand scheme of things, as Westerly pointed out, this tennis thing is pretty small potatoes.

    I would hope that the WTA would take this opportunity to throw their weight (ha) behind meaningful discussions to try to further peace in the region rather than just take their toys and go home. I think that would be the wrong message.

    I also think this notion that Roddick is skipping Dubai because of this incident is total bullshit. He didn't want to get on a plane in Memphis and fly halfway around the world (who would blame him?) to get drummed in the second round of a tournament with a solid draw. He may come close to having to play a top 25 player!

  17. If that's the real reason why he pulled out, then Roddick has a new fan. He's the only player who actually stood up for Peer. Good for you, Andy!
    And I'm really dissapointed in Safin for accepting a wild card. I'm a huge fan of his and I would've liked him to skip the tournament, although I knew that wasn't likely to happen.

  18. Matthew, I don't agree with what Israel is doing, but calling it a pariah, considering the fact that Hamas is actually a terrorist group and not some helpless people, is a little too much.
    If that were the case, shouldn't USA be banned from every sport event until they remove their troups from Iraq? Give me a break!

  19. I read the real reason he pulled out was he would be playing on Saturday/Sunday in Memphis and couldn't realistically be in Dubai on a Monday. Now he is saying the politcal reason. LOL

  20. I admire Andy even more than for making a stand,so proud of him.

  21. Who said tennis is the be all end all? Tennis happened to get caught up in the long-standing issue because of it's international reach - clearly that's positives and negatives to that reach.

    I get your point, so hypothetically speaking if there was a major tourney in Israel and ANYONE was banned from playing (even though they qualified) because of whatever passport they held, that Israeli tourney should suffer the same consequences and lose their membership in the WTA Tour. Period. I have no problem applying the same principle to them as I do Dubai.

    But there's blame to go around here: the WTA for pushing the policy even though they knew it would be almost impossible but also to the Dubai tourney for accepting monies and policies that said even an Israeli could play there if they qualified. I don't think the ballers should be attacked though. They're going there to play tennis - it's the bigger organizations that are pulling the strings.

    Sports and politics will always mix, it's they handling of it that matters and it seems the ATP, from a tennis perspective, has handled it the best.

  22. What BS. The guy wouldn't come to the tour anyways, and uses this as excuse. And this thing that he is taking a brave stand and 'speaking out utter nonsense, too.
    It's not like it takes any courage to do it where he's coming from. In fact, quite the opposite is true. In the USA he would be more condemned for going than for not going there. So, really, he's taking the easy way out.

  23. Roddick doesn't seem like the kind of guy who'd lie about his reasons for withdrawing from a tournament (and I'm not a fan). I think he did it to show solidarity for Peer rather than to make a political point, but I could be wrong. The female players didn't hear about the decision to deny Peer a visa until the day before the tournament started, so expecting anyone to make a decision that quickly is a bit much imo. I think Dubai should be removed from the WTA calendar from 2010. Whether it will be is a different story.
    As for Safin, he needs all the ranking points he can get, so I don't blame him for going to Dubai. If he'd been a top 10 player like Roddick, maybe.


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