ISLAMABAD - The International Tennis Federation (ITF) Board of Directors upheld the referee's decision of awarding the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Zone Group-II second round tie to New Zealand.

In their detailed reply, the ITF rejected the PTF's plea and upheld the earlier decision of awarding the tie to Kiwis. The inside sources have confirmed to this scribe that the PTF had presented their case quite strongly and the ITF board of directors seemed to have convinced that was the main reason of not announcing the decision on the same day, but at the end of the day, they were left with no other option but to save the skin of their referee and rejected the PTF appeal.

In their reply, the ITF stated that Pakistan had the choice of ground (neutral ground) and was considered the home nation for the tie. The referee awarded the tie to New Zealand due to the failure of the PTF to provide a playable court in accordance with the ITF Davis Cup Regulations 38 and 44.

In rendering its decision, the board had the benefit of extensive written materials that the PTF submitted. In addition, the board provided five PTF representatives with the opportunity to meet with and make oral representations to the board. The members of the board asked the PTF representatives a number of questions while the New Zealand Tennis Federation president also participated in the oral discussions via phone and stated their point of view.

The referee had the discretion under the Davis Cup regulations to determine whether the court was playable. Regulation 44(d) provides that the ‘referee may call off a tie and award the victory to the visiting nation if the home nation fails to provide a playable court as per regulation 38’. Regulation 44(e) provides that the ‘decision of the referee is final’.

Despite various representations from the PTF concerning the motives of the referee, the board determined that the referee exercised his discretion in good faith. Notwithstanding geographical distance and differences in time zones, the evidence indicates that the referee was in frequent communication with the office of the executive director with regard to his concern about the playability of the court.

This concern was brought to the attention of the host nation, another referee might have consulted differently or made a different determination, under regulations 44 and 38, he had the authority to make a final decision. The board's decision cannot be based on the board's respect for the PTF or the efforts of the PTF to promote and grow tennis. The board appreciates the thoroughness of the appeal of the PTF and its desire to host Davis Cup-ties in future, however, the board has determined that the Davis Cup committee's decision should stand.

It is unfortunate that the tie could not be completed. The ITF board has directed the Davis Cup committee to revisit its regulations and determine whether any revisions are advisable or appropriate to address situations like this in the future. As per Appendix C 1 b) of the ITF Constitution and Article 17 of the Davis Cup regulations, the decision of the board of directors shall be final and binding on all parties.

The most interesting thing to note in this childish reply of ITF is they had accepted flaws in rules and that is the main reason they have decided to amend the rules to avoid such situations in future, but the ITF should have acted in the best interest of the game and should have taken the PTF stance seriously and treated it on moral and logical grounds instead of amending the rules in future and save the skin of their 'favorite' team.

The decision of this particular tie should be set as precedent, which could have enhanced the fast declining reputation of the ITF, who are blamed for siding the powerful nations and lending a step motherly treatment to other nations, especially when it comes to Asian's and particularly the biased decisions always cost Pakistan dearly, as ITF is not in a mood to let Pakistan organise Davis Cup ties at home soil.

The ITF notorious designs were very much evident with the fact they didn't accept the Pakistan's right wholeheartedly of hosting the tie at neutral venue and appointed a biased referee who had strong backing of Tennis Australia, that is why despite losing the tie, they managed to get the desired results.

“Many considerations like financial stake, reorganising hassle and their credibility must have been reason to uphold Davis Cup committee decision,” said ITF member on the condition of anonymity. He added lobbying and influence of New Zealand and Australia existing in ITF quarters must have leveled the ITF board members decision against Pakistan.

When this scribe contacted PTF chief Syed Kaleem Imam to seek his comments on the prevailing situation, Kaleem said: “We are sad on the decision of the ITF board of directors. We still believe that the decision of referee was not correct, but we respect the ITF forum and will live with this grief of unfair decision of the referee for times to come.”

 “The PTF has fought it case till the last hour, only to fall short in awake of international scheme. The PTF has spent huge money on this endeavour to hold it first ever neutral avenue tie only to be shackle by whims of an individual who had ulterior motive,” Kaleem concluded.