ITF news: Top official Soeren Friemel resigns amid abuse claims

Soeren Friemel

International Tennis Federation (ITF) head of officiating Soeren Friemel has officially resigned from his position.

Friemel has resigned effective immediately as confirmed by the ITF and follows a finding that he had breached the code of conduct for officials.

The violation has been linked to “inappropriate comments and invitations” made to a subordinate.

Friemel had been the highest-ranking official in professional tennis.

“Based on evidence and consideration of all materials, the Joint Certification Programme Disciplinary Panel (JCP DP) found the subject of the complaint repeatedly made inappropriate comments and invitations to an individual while in a position of authority, causing unease and discomfort,” the ITF said in an email as reported by the Washington Post.

Friemel has been serving a 12-month suspension that was backdated to June 19, 2021, as a result of the panel’s findings.

“Soeren remains under suspension and we are reviewing our course of action,” explained a spokesperson for the ITF.

“The complaint was that Soeren made inappropriate comments and invitations to an individual.

“The issue was the situation of power imbalance, which led the investigating officer and the panel to find a breach of the code.”

The former chief official of the ITF has been replaced by Australia’s Wayne McKewen, a veteran tournament referee.

Friemel had already resigned as the US Open’s chief umpire, a role he had filled from 2016 to 2018.

According to a report, the articles of the code of conduct that may have been breached include:

  • Officials must “conduct themselves in a professional and ethical manner, giving due regard to the Supervisor/Referee, players, officials, Tournament personnel and public;”
  • Officials must not “engage in unfair, unprofessional, criminal or unethical conduct, including attempt to injure or intentionally interfere with other Officials, players, tournament personnel and public;”
  • And officials must “not abuse his/her position of authority or control, and shall not compromise the psychological, physical or emotional wellbeing of other Officials, players or tournament personnel.”