Tuesday 20 February 2018

Nastase makes mockery of ITF by holding court

Romanian head coach Ilie Nastase. Photo: REUTERS
Romanian head coach Ilie Nastase. Photo: REUTERS

Simon Briggs

Ilie Nastase thumbed his nose at the International Tennis Federation (ITF) yesterday by strolling through the front door of the Tennis Club IDU. It was another indication that, in Romania, he can get away with anything he likes.

Nastase had theoretically been banned from the venue after his disgraceful Fed Cup display on Saturday, when he verbally abused everyone from the British team to the match officials and even visiting journalists.

However, nobody is likely to stop this grandee of Romanian sport from going where he pleases. He was surrounded by a knot of TV cameras and security guards as he walked up the main corridor of the venue and into the VIP Lounge.

"If someone's accreditation is taken away from them you'd think that would be it," said the British captain Anne Keothavong.

"There's no point having a rule book if you don't stick to the rules. "

Keothavong confirmed that bunches of flowers had been sent to the British women. When told they had been sent by Nastase, her face froze into a grimace.

"Nice," she replied. "Unfortunately I can't take them on the plane home with me."

The ITF, whose job it should have been to keep Nastase off the site, seemed typically bemused by the situation, but once the great agent provocateur had made his presence felt, he slipped out a back door and left the Romanian players to celebrate their win over Great Britain.

One thing the ITF did do was hand Nastase a provisional ban, meaning that "he may not participate in the Fed Cup in any capacity with immediate effect". Not that this is likely to affect his life in the short term, because Romania will not play their next tie until February.

Read more: Romanian captain lashes out at journalist who reported 'chocolate with milk' remark on Serena pregnancy

Meanwhile, the investigation is ongoing into what to do with Nastase in the longer term.

A significant ban would seem to be the minimum he can expect after his outrageous conduct here. And it is hard to see why much deliberation is required. As the American TV presenter and former player Mary Carillo put it on Saturday: "What's to investigate? Get him out."

Another former player, Pam Shriver, added to the rap sheet against Nastase yesterday when she spoke to the BBC.

"He certainly should be banned," Shriver said. "It's unacceptable behaviour, it's insulting to minorities, women, almost humanity.

"I recall that when I was 16, whenever I saw Ilie Nastase he would ask me the same question, which was, 'are you still a virgin?' It was a shocking thing, I never had anybody ask me that before.

"Okay, he was a known jokester, and he did it in a joking way. But when I got older, perhaps 20, and he asked me for about the 30th time, I said, 'would you please stop asking me that?'

"This man has not been respectful of women for a long, long time. I don't think he'll recover now. I think he is done as a coach."

Irish Independent

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