Ref who defaulted Djokovic suspended for ‘abuse of power’

ITF official Soeren Friemel, who defaulted Novak Djokovic, has been suspended due to 'abuse of power' charges

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Novak Djokovic talks to Soeren Friemel during the 2020 US Open

Soeren Friemel, who defaulted Novak Djokovic from 2020 US Open, is serving 12-month suspension from tennis due to ‘abuse of power’ charges.

British newspaper The Telegraph reported that Friemel, the highest-ranking umpire in tennis, has been absent from tournaments since the run-in to last year’s edition of Wimbledon.

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“The complaint was that Soeren made inappropriate comments and invitations to an individual,” a spokesperson from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) was quoted as saying.

“The issue was the situation of power imbalance, which led the investigating officer and the panel to find a breach of the code.”

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The panel found Friemel breaking three clauses of the Joint Certification Programme Code of Conduct with Article 13 stating that officials “shall not engage in unfair, unprofessional, criminal or unethical conduct” and Article 14 stressing: “Officials shall not abuse his/her position of authority or control, and shall not compromise the psychological, physical or emotional well-being of other Officials, players or tournament personnel.”

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Four different instances, involving the same male umpire, were brought to the attention of the governing bodies in tennis in May 2021 and allegedly occurred between 2011 and 2015.

His suspension is backdated to June 19, 2021 and set to end at midnight on June 18 this year, which means he could still officiate at Wimbledon.

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Probed on whether the ruling will affect Friemel’s ITF position, the spokesperson replied that he “remains under suspension and we are reviewing our course of action”.

Friemel has been employed as its head of officiating since 2014 and was involved in defaulting Djokovic from the US Open in 2020.

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The World No 1 was disqualified during his fourth round clash against Pablo Carreno Busta for accidentally hitting a lineswoman in the throat with a ball.

Friemel was called on court and the German had a long discussion with Djokovic before defaulting him.

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