Italian Fabio Fognini has been suspended from the US Open after an investigation. The 22nd seed had already been warned in his first round singles match for conduct violations.
He has now been cited for a total of three offenses, the worst of which was for swearing at the umpire in Italian.
Louise Engzell, the Swedish umpire, does not speak Italian, so when Fognini had his outburst she would have understood exactly what the seed was saying to her.
The Italian was fortunate not to get defaulted on the spot, as the 22nd seed essentially called the female umpire a whore (in more colorful language, though). There was another phrase also involved, but we are not going to be repeating that in this article.
The suspension is provisional, whilst the Grand Slam board decides on any further penalties. The Italian has already been handed a very large fine for the code violations, practically half of the money he would have received for the first round match. He also had to forfeit all prize money (singles and doubles) earned at the tournament.
This may not be the only punishment Fognini is handed however, the Grand Slam board will decide if the Italian committed a major offense–if he did, in addition to a fine of $250,000, he could be permanently banned from participating in any future Grand Slam.
Would this punishment be deserved? It may seem harsh, and has an impact on his doubles partner, as they have now been withdrawn from that event, handing a walkover to their 3rd round opponents. However, Fognini has pushed the barriers on behaviour before.
The Italian is known for outbursts on court (as are other players); however, it is more his language that is the issue. An umpire should be able to go about their job without being sworn at, name-called, and generally insulted.
There are some who will think that the punishment is too harsh, and that the umpire should not have blown this out of proportion. However, if we remember that the umpire doesn’t speak Italian, then we realise that it wasn’t the umpire that has reported this.
If you were to go up to you manager, your neighbour’s wife, in fact anyone going about their job and call them what Fognini called Engzell, you would probably find yourself with at the very least a black eye or broken nose, and the very least you would find yourself fired or suspended from your work.
This is Fognini’s work, the same rules apply; you cannot in life go round insulting people – regardless of the language you do it in, and not expect it to come back and bite you.
Good on the US Open for the default, and the provisional suspension. I, personally, hope that he receives a very large fine at the very very least. This kind of behaviour cannot and should not be tolerated, otherwise we will get back to the realms of the kind of behaviour endured by the British Fed cup team by Ille Nastase in Romania.