Google Down the Line!: (UPDATED) Top lady ballers in Dubai show support for Shahar

Monday, February 16, 2009

(UPDATED) Top lady ballers in Dubai show support for Shahar

After yesterday's disappointing news concerning the UAE's denial of Shahar Peer's visa into Dubai, a number of top lady ballers at the tourney lent their support to the Israeli.

Amelie Mauresmo:

It's not acceptable. I think sport should be above issues like that to do with religion and wars and whatever. I'm surprised.
Elena Dementieva:
I feel very sorry for her. She's a very good girl and very sensitive. I played her in Auckland and there was some kind of demonstration during the match. I just feel sad for her. She really cares about what's going on between Israel and Palestine and it's just a very tough situation. I think the tour takes it seriously and I wish she could play in Dubai.
Ana Ivanovic:
It's very unfortunate, I feel very sorry for her. Shahar is a friend of mine and I feel sorry she's not here. It's always a pity to mix politics and sport. But the WTA is looking into it.
Dinara Safina:
It's pretty disappointing she's not playing here. She's a great player and a great athlete. I hope she will have many more chances. I think the WTA is doing its best for them.
Yeah, we're all hoping the WTA executives do their best for Shahar and her career and a great start would be to cancel the Dubai tourney's membership in the WTA for violating Tour policy by denying her entry into a tourney for which she qualified.

I think that would be the best.

UPDATE: WTA CEO Larry Scott spoke with the AP today about the matter -
WTA Tour chairman Larry Scott said Monday that barring Peer threatens the principle that sports and politics should not mix.

Speaking by telephone to The Associated Press, he said the WTA will consider what “types of sanctions are going to be deemed to be appropriate in light of what has happened, including whether or not the tournament has a slot on the calendar next year.”

Asked if there is a risk that the tournament could be dropped if this matter is not set right, Scott replied: “You could say that, yes.”

“There’s two things we need to consider: What’s the future fate of the Dubai tournament and what sanctions apply. And the second thing is how does Shahar get treated fairly, how does her situation get redressed?” he added.

"Sports and politics should not mix and the fundamental principles upon which the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour are founded include open and fair competition to all, regardless of nationality, creed, race, religion, etc."

“That’s not just a principle that our Tour is founded upon, but I think it is the underlying spirit of international sports in general and therefore I think the ramifications of what happened here ripple well beyond tennis.”

“We will think deeply about this in making our decision on what our final response is."
He also spoke with The New York Times and said,
We knew it was an issue, but we made it clear that she was going to be in the draw and we wanted to be optimistic that she would get the visa. Then they waited until the 11th hour to deny it.
Shahar released the following statement -
I am very disappointed that I have been prevented from playing in the Dubai tournament. I think a red line has been crossed here that could harm the purity of the sport and other sports. I have always believed that politics and sports should not be mixed.
Furthermore, discussion of canceling this week's tourney occurred with Shahar and Tour officials. However, she didn't want the other lady ballers to suffer the same consquences she's facing so they decided to move forward.

(image via Getty)


  1. I think it's appalling. I'm with you on cancelling their WTA entry - if they're going to deny players entry then Dubai just shouldn't be a part of the WTA.
    I'm definitely glad to see that the other players are getting involved, though. It's good to see them supporting each other, especially on issues like this.

  2. It is so sad that money overrides everything.
    None of the other girls would dare pull out of the tourney in protest, would they? Nah, that's more like something Billie Jean would do. Can't bite the hand that feeds us. WTA won't sanction Dubai because of all the money it pours in, and female players don't want to get fined, or take a stand that might affect their pocketbooks. Let's leave progress in the 70's, where it belongs.

  3. This is appalling but what I also find quite upsetting is that Dubai isn't taking responsibility for its discriminatory practices. Their quote regarding this is "Shahar Peer has withdrawn and is replaced by lucky loser, Ayumi Morita." I didn't realize that being denied entry and withdrawing were the same thing?

    I don't think the WTA should ever force a player to do a photoshoot or play a tournament again. If the tour isn't going to honor its contractual obligation to allow a player to play a tournament for which they've qualified, they can't demand that the players honor their own commitments.

  4. i cant believe that the WTA would do that!

  5. Larry Scott speaks like a politician. The WTA will probably fine the tournament, but they'll let it continue. Too much money is at stake.
    I wish the players would boycott the tournament, that's the only way to send the WTA a message, but that will never happen.

  6. I think the WTA is being disingenuous - why would its tennis tournament be exempt from the well known fact that Israeli passport holders can't get visas to the UAE? There are exceptions, but given current events, it's no surprise that Shahar was denied. Maybe the WTA was secretly hoping that Shahar wouldn't even try to enter the tournament?
    And yeah, the lady ballers have made their statements and that's it. We'll see if any of that $2 million purse is donated to world peace. But honestly, I was surprised they even spoke out at all.

  7. I genuinely want to hear Billie Jean King's opinion on the matter.

  8. Really is this the best they can do, Mauresmo apart the rest sound like 8th graders "I'm sorrryyyyy!" They still are smiling it up for the cameras over on the WTA site. Well it is practically designed by Dubai Duty Free.
    A bunch of wealthy women with no principles.

  9. There's an article from Reuters saying that the ATP is planning to take action regarding their tournament in Dubai even though they haven't even encountered a problem yet. It's good to see that at least one of the tours has the balls and honor to defend its players.

    Sidenote: Gimelstob is part of the board of directors? Also, they should have chosen someone else to speak abaout players' rights considering his little sexist comments.

    Here's the link:

  10. Right, the following message might step on some toes/feet/break something so disclaimer first so people don't start chucking stuff at me:

    1) I think what the government of the UAE did is WRONG.
    2) I think the WTA needs to stop kissing arse.
    3) I grew up in the UAE.
    4) I think everything needs context so there is a greater appreciation of the underlying issues.

    The United Arab Emirates is an Islamic country. The people (despite it being incredibly cosmopolitan) are staunchly Arab (does not automatically equal anti-American) and have much sympathy and empathy for their 'brothers and sisters' in Gaza and Palestine.

    This tournament is coming right after the whole Gaza mess. The Arab world is furious about the impotence of the international community, international organisations and yes, is really; really pissed off at Israel. I don't want to get into an ideological debate so I'll say this: lots and lots of people died. In my opinion, there is never any justification for it.

    This is the current context.

    However. I don't believe that Sahar Peer's visa was denied because of this, per se.

    If you have an Israeli passport, you cannot enter any of the Arab states- except Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon (if I'm not wrong). And now perhaps Qatar, but I doubt it.

    That is the official governmental stance. I don't necessarily see it as Sahar being denied her visa because of Gaza or as a statement- but because of the fact that she is Israeli- no matter who the hell she is..she has an Israeli passport. (No, I'm not saying that makes it OK. I'm just stating the facts- or whatever I know about the process)

    I mean, it's a hassle just having an Israeli stamp in a passport and then having to explain why and what for and whatever else. And just as a side note so that this doesn't just end up demonising the Arab world and their archaic practices/grudges- if I were to apply for an Israeli visa with all my Arab visas (even though my passport isn't), I would be denied entry.

    In fact, if I couldn't support my application to every country I've been to with documents to prove I am who I say I am and that I won't blow anything up and if I were to..they'd know exactly where I was... I probably wouldn't get to go there.

    In any case, I believe the WTA should be dealing with visa formalities and if they weren't aware of these things.. that is also their fault. They should know these things. All well and good to say don't mix sports and politics, but we don't live in nicely categorised and separated worlds.

    Yeah. Basic point: the government is acting like an arse; but those are their rules (stupid rules, yes)..but the WTA should have known about then and done something much before this so as to ensure that there were other channels they could go through to ensure her visa. It isn't completely unheard of.

  11. Nadalfan has a point. This is UAE policy and has been for a long time, morals aside. Israeli player Andy Ram 'withdrew' from Dubai last year under circumstances that are not clear but very possibly have something to do with him being denied entry. Now it looks like the same thing is happening this year. The ATP must've been aware of this situation for a while.

    The WTA and ATP should not agree to tournaments being held in those countries that are going to deny players entry based on nationality, wealthy sponsors or not.

  12. Well said Nadalfan. People are behaving as if Dubai woke up one morning pulled this out of thin air on the back of Israel decimating Gaza, when in fact the UAE has had this visa policy for YEARS. But funnily enough we are only hearing about this now, as if it were something new and it is being framed as a 'racial boycott'.

    I also think the WTA is talking out of both sides of its mouth, by behaving as though it is *shocked* to its very back-teeth that such a thing could happen when surely, they must have known about the UAE's long-standing policy regarding Israeli passport holders.

    Either choose countries where this is NOT going to be an issue, or be fully prepared for what comes of staging events there.

    It's not the WTA's job to go into countries, be fully cognizant of their issues and policies yet 'hope' they can override a long-standing national policy, which in itself is a deeply political, disingenuous manouevre. It's stupid, greedy and arrogant.

    I also love the way that the UAE's long-standing stance is NOW being presented as a problem and the implicit classism that underpins this newfound attention. So - it's okay that the average Israeli citizen would be refused entry and have been for years - but Shahar Peer should have a waiver because she's a professional tennis player?

    If you disagree with the UAE's stand, then at least disagree with them on principle and not because some tennis players have been affected.

    As for the "sports and politics shouldn't mix" argument. Naive adn ignorant. (Yeah Mauresmo, I'm looking at you.) Sport is international and it is deeply capitalist - if you could take it out of a nation-state framework and divest it of money, then sure - you could have a lovely utopia where sport was depoliticised.

    But in the real world, sport, capitalism and politics intersect all the time.


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