French Sports Minister Amelie Odia-Castierra condemned the message of Serbian Novak Djokovic, which he wrote after his match in the first round of the second Grand Slam tournament, Roland Garros, describing Kosovo as “the heart of Serbia.”
In response to a question by “France 2” channel, the minister and former director of the French Tennis Federation indicated that the message of the world number three was “inappropriate” and that “it should not start again,” classifying it as “hardcore” and “extremely political.”
The minister, who was invited to comment on the expression of political positions during the French championship, such as the positions of Ukrainian athletes since the Russian invasion of their country, stressed that she would not classify “the two issues on the same level.”
And she believed that “what is happening to the Ukrainians inside the stadiums is very painful and very difficult.”
Djokovic, who was born in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, sparked controversy on Monday when he wrote in the Serbian language the message, “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence” on the camera, after his victory in the first round over the American Alexander Kovacevich.
NATO-led peacekeepers on Monday dispersed Serb protesters who once again clashed with police in northern Kosovo to demand the sacking of the newly elected Albanian mayors, as ethnic tensions rise in the Balkan country.
“Kosovo is the heart of Serbia – stop the violence”, Novak Djokovic wrote on camera after winning the first round of Roland Garros pic.twitter.com/zoAuBxDtjv
– Spriter (@Spriter99880) May 29, 2023
“Kosovo is our cradle, our stronghold and the center of the most important things for our country,” Djokovic, 36, told Serbian media at the tournament. There are many reasons to write this on camera.”
Djokovic, who is crowned with 22 major titles, added: “I am not a politician and I have no intention of participating in political discussions, it is a very sensitive topic. Of course it pains me a lot as a Serb to see what is happening in Kosovo and the way our people have been kicked out of the municipal offices, so this is the least I can do.”
And Amelie Odia-Castierra had called – a few weeks ago – for players to be punished for refusing to participate in an event in support of homosexuals.
This came after a number of players refused to participate in an event to support gays, and refused to wear shirts with rainbow numbers.
And French media revealed that most of the players are from African countries.
The French newspaper, Le Parisien, quoted the Minister of Sports as saying, “I am very sorry about what happened. We live in a country that has always encouraged respect for human rights.”
“In my opinion, clubs should have a dialogue with their players,” Odia-Casterra added. “Actions must be taken against these players.”