Shahar wasn't totally blameless but Anna Chakvetadze was no angel either
Peer accused of 'unsporting conduct' in Fed Cup tie
Tue Feb 5, 2008 10:51 PM GMT
TEL AVIV, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Israel's most senior sports administrator criticised tennis player Shahar Peer of 'unsporting conduct' for encouraging the crowd to put off opponents during last weekend's Fed Cup tie against Russia.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Alex Gilady said Israel's top player and world number 17 Peer had incited the partisan home crowd to try to distract the opposition.
"The crowd behaved this way because it was incited ... by Shahar Peer, I think this was unsporting conduct," Gilady said.
Fed Cup holders Russia won the tie 4-1 but some spectators in the capacity crowd of over 5,000 tried to unsettle the Russian trio of Maria Sharapova, Dinara Safina and Anna Chakvetadze.
Gilady said the crowd, some of whom had mimicked Australian Open champion Sharapova's grunting sounds as she hit the ball when she played Tzipi Obziler, had portrayed a "primitive" image of the country.
Gilady told Reuters he had sent a letter of apology for the crowd's behaviour to Russian Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpishchev, who is also an IOC member.
The Israel Tennis Association said in a statement that it did not accept Gilady's criticism of Peer, although it asked spectators to behave in an acceptable manner.
"The Israel Tennis Association rejects Alex Gilady's attack on Israeli No. 1 Shahar Peer who has shown has sporting abilities and will continue to lead the Fed Cup team in future ... the association calls on the spectators to show restraint and respect the rules," the statement read.
Israeli host Sweden in a Davis Cup tie at the same venue near Tel Aviv this weekend. Doubles player Jonathan Erlich said he did not expect a repeat performance.
"The crowd that came last weekend and those who will be here next weekend I think will be quite different. Next week the real tennis crowd will come
," Erlich told reporters on Tuesday.
Erlich, who won the Australian Open doubles title with Andy Ram last month, said the crowd had "transgressed the rules a bit and upset us all"