Stan Wawrinka has sensationally claimed that the International Federation of Tennis (ITF) have allegedly hired people to sit in the crowd at Davis Cup matches. The veteran tennis star, part of the Switzerland team that is in Group B with France and Australia, has been quick to point out empty seats and a lack of atmosphere at the tournament, and he accused the organisation of artificially boosting the noise inside the AO Arena in Manchester.
The Davis Cup was renowned for his its raucous noise in previous editions, but changes to the format to make it more like a World Cup appear to have turned fans away from the international event. Wawrinka has been vocal in his criticism about the lack of fans attending matches that do not involve Great Britain, with this section of tournament hosted on British soil.
On Tuesday, he highlighted the fact hundreds of seats were left empty for Switzerland’s tie with France on Tuesday in Nottingham with a video on social media in which he also called out former Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique who used to oversee the event. And now the 37-year-old has gone one step further by suggesting the ITP are paying people to sit in the crowd and generate noise.
Wawrinka posted a tweet to his 1.7 million followers on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, which read: “Trivia Davis Cup question: Did you know that @ITFTennis are paying people to support and make some noise for every country at every match?”
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When challenged by former Venezeulan player and tennis coach Daniel Vallverdu over the validity of his bold claim, Wawrinka doubled down. Vallverdu asked: “I hope that’s not true?” to which Wawrinka wrote back: “100% confirmed.”
American tennis pro Noah Rubin also cast doubt on his accusation, writing: “Wait, is this actually true or are you trolling?” Wawrinka left him in no doubt, simply tweeting: “True” with two facepalm emojis to express his embarrassment.
The world No 40 skipped Switzerland’s make-or-break match against Australia as they were defeated 3-0, with Thanasi Kokkinakis and Alex de Minaur beating Dominic Stricker and Marc-Andrea Huesler in the singles respectively. Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell then overcame Stricker and Huesler 6-2 6-4 in doubles to ensure a miserable tournament for Wawrinka and his compatriots.
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The ITF are yet to publicly address Wawrinka’s comments, but they are under increasing pressure from professional players to arrest the slide in spectators.
Australia’s John Millman remarked “this isn’t the Davis Cup” when taking a video of empty seats, while retired US star Mardy Fish accused the ITF of “killing” the tournament.
The organisation confirmed that over 113,000 people had attended the 2022 tournament, which was pointed out by Pique when he made it clear to Wawrinka that his organisation Kosmos is no longer in charge of hosting the event after dissolving the 25-year partnership just five years into the agreement.
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