CAGLIARI, Italy (AP) — The International Tennis Federation banned Tunisia from the 2014 Davis Cup on Saturday after one of its players was ordered not to compete against an Israeli opponent at a second-tier tournament last month.
The ITF said in a statement that the Tunisian federation was guilty of "interfering with international sporting practice" when it ordered Malek Jaziri to withdraw from his quarterfinal against Israeli player Amir Weintraub at an ATP Challenger tournament in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
The ITF said its board voted unanimously to suspend Tunisia from the Davis Cup for one year, with Tunisian member Tarak Cherif recusing himself from the vote.
"There is no room for prejudice of any kind in sport or in society," ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said in the statement. "The ITF Board decided to send a strong message to the Tunisian Tennis Federation that this kind of action will not be tolerated by any of our members. The Board felt that suspension from Davis Cup, a competition that was founded 113 years ago to encourage better understanding through sport, would provide a good lesson for the Federation and a fitting penalty for their unfortunate action."
Tunisia played in the third-tier Group II of the 2013 Davis Cup, losing to Latvia in the first round.
Jaziri was told in an email from the Tunisian federation that "you are ordered not to play against the Israeli player." The email was later provided to Tunisia's state news agency by Jaziri's brother, Amir.
Arab countries have for the past decades observed to varying degrees boycotts against Israeli athletes in protest over the situation of the Palestinians.