Antisemitism denounced at the academy of Russian tennis player Daniil Medvedev’s coach
A teenage tennis player, with a great projected career in the sport, placed a request to his tennis coach in order to be absent on the days corresponding to the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), since he would not be able to train, as the religion indicates on such a sacred date. To his surprise, the response he and his father received from the coach was not only negative, but was followed by public ridicule and harassment from the high-performance academy Elite Tennis Center, in the city of Cannes, France.
This event, which sounds as a story from a different era, occurred in 2019 and caused a legal dispute between the parties due to the vile religious discrimination on the part of the coach, who’s partner and co-founder of the tennis academy currently trains Daniil Mevdedev, the 4th. best player in the world according to the latest ranking of The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).
The young man’s parents filed a lawsuit on January 21, 2020, against the founders of the Club, Jean-René Lisnard and Gilles Cervara, the latter, the current coach of Medvedev.
David Rebibou, the attorney representing the minor in the case, explained via email that the legal action is due to Lisnard’s unilateral position and the exchange of contradictory emails and messages through the social network WhatsApp.
The story began on October 9, 2019, when Lisnard, the aforementioned coach, received the request from the minor to be absent from training for the Jewish holiday that was then celebrated from October 8 to 9, 2019.
In the chat message that the minor sent, he argued that the day was the holiest on the Jewish calendar and according to custom he should refrain from physical training. Also that his absence was a request from his father.
The coach’s response was not only negative but controversial, when he questioned with the phrase “It is forbidden by whom?”, he then proceeded to ignore the rest of the arguments and tried to persuade the minor to go against his father’s request, without success.
On November 15, Lisnard sent a letter via email to the teenager’s father, acknowledging that the boy fits in well with the group, but at the same time, gives subtle criticism about the technical and physical performance of the tennis player.
Also that the young man had difficulty complying with the rules of the place and the “holidays” that had been imposed affected the high performance practice schedule.
He added that no flexibilities were allowed in order to keep the proper operation of the center, without any exception, nor were the parents able to intervene in the trainings.
The family’s response was immediate, and in the same way they stated that the accusations were false, referring to the alleged breach of the rules of the academy, since it was the first absence and the only day the boy did not comply with the schedule.
The explanations were accepted by Gilles Cervara but not by Lisnard, who took a more radical and inflammatory stance, according to the boy’s father.
The family mentioned in another private communication, that schools and educational centers around the world respected the faith of people, so they expected the same from the academy.
However, Lisnard on behalf of Elite Tennis Center, took a final position on November 23rd when it announced that the minor was no longer part of the process, nor of the philosophy that they required.
Likewise, that the religious festivals cut off the continuity of the training, and for the first time Lisnard affirmed that the student’s attitude was not good on or off the field.
By then, those affected tried to talk with Cervara, who showed concern about the case, however, Lisnard’s response was that the case would be dealt with through his lawyer.
The authorities of the town of Grasse in France, have already requested additional documents, as well as text messages in English; while the Police carry out the corresponding investigations and hearings.
“A symbolic compensation is sought for the acts with which it is stigmatized with racist and anti-Semitic comments” stated the attorney Rebibou when questioned about the purpose of the lawsuit.
Until now, neither the academy, nor Lisnard and Cervara’s attorneys, have responded to the legal action, according to Rebibou. He also ignores whether the discrimination committed is already known by Medvedev or other well-known tennis players such as Varvara Gracheva, who have a direct relationship with the Elite Tennis Center and its founders.
Yom Kippur is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, a full day of prayer, fasting, and spiritual work, where abstention from all worldly work and chores is set aside.
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