A 46-year-old Italian umpire was suspended by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) after footage spread online of him making sexual comments to a 16-year-old ball girl.
Gianluca Moscarella was umpiring a match at the ATP Challenger Tour in Florence, Italy, last week and was caught on camera audio telling the ball girl “very sexy,” among other remarks, and urging a player to win.
Tennis umpire tells ball girl ‘very sexy’, coaches player
Moscarella was heard on the livestream feeds saying “very fantastic,” and “very sexy.” He continued later in the match by asking the ball girl, who is 16, “Are you OK? It’s hot. Do you feel hot? Physically or emotionally?”
He is a gold badge umpire, the highest level of international certification.
The umpire was also heard over the feed coaching one of the players.
"Stay focused... should be 6-1, 6-1, you had 45 break points,” he said, via Tennis.com, while the opponent was on a toilet break. He also reportedly encouraged the player with “come on,” “two minutes and it’d over,” and “focused, please.”
ATP ‘immediately dismisses’ umpire while investigating
The videos drew blowback on social media and the ATP took immediate action. It said in a statement, per Tennis.com, it “immediately dismissed” Moscarella from the event "when the matter was brought to light, and a full investigation has been initiated.''
He will not work any ATP or Challenger events as a "contracted ATP official,” per the statement, until an investigation is complete. He was suspended without pay.
In September 2018, umpire Mohamed Lahyani was suspended for two games by ATP after coaching Nick Kyrgios at the U.S. Open. Lahyani came down from his chair to chat with Kyrgios after he was down 3-0, and fell behind in a set.
"I want to help you. You are great for tennis. I know this is not you."
ATP executive vice president of rules and competition Gayle David Bradshaw said his actions were well-intended, but “crossed a line that compromised his own impartiality as a chair umpire," per the Independent.
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