India's Davis Cup players refuse to sign code of conduct
India's Davis Cup players will pull out of the team's match against South Korea if they are required to sign a code of conduct agreement with the country's tennis association.
A group of eight players said on Friday in a statement that they would skip the February 1-3 series in New Delhi if the All India Tennis Association asks them to sign.
"Unfortunately, in light of the AITA secretary general Mr. Bharat Oza's statement that the AITA will introduce a disciplinary code for players ... we wish to make it very clear that all of us are, regrettably, unavailable for Davis Cup selection unless the AITA is willing to consider and engage with us on our very legitimate suggestions in relation to the team," the players said.
The eight players, which include veteran doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi and singles player Somdev Devvarman, said they were united in their stand against certain practices even though they were "not looking to challenge the authority of the All India Tennis Association."
Their demands include more input into choosing venues, more professional team management, an increase in their share of the prize money and an enlarged team of six players to ensure adequate practice partners and exposure to more players.
"I feel our suggestions have been reasonable and have been arrived at based on what we believe we deserve," Devvarman said in the statement. "If the AITA proposes a solution that is agreeable to all the players, I shall play for the country, if asked."
Devvarman said the suggestions had been made keeping the good of the team in mind.
"If, in our opinion, the AITA's response is unfair, I will stand united with the rest of the players and continue on our pursuit for changes in the system that I believe are necessary for the evolution of the sport and the system of sports administration in the country," he said.
"My involvement will always be for the greater good of the team and what we believe is best for our team. We will not continue to function with these archaic methods of management."
The AITA had earlier conceded that the players had a valid point in wanting coach Nandan Bal and non-playing captain Shiv Misra replaced.
"I see some merit in the reasons that they have given for a change in support staff," AITA chief executive Hiranmoy Chatterjee said in Chennai. "So we may bring about new staff, we will give them the best coach we have, but we won't give in to the exact names that they have suggested."
The AITA faces a second stand-off with players in less than a year. Last year, the AITA was criticized for not reaching out to players and had to work out a compromise ahead of the London Olympics after Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna refused to play doubles with Leander Paes.
The AITA had banned Bhupathi and Bopanna for two years from the Davis Cup for their refusal to play with Paes but the suspension was put on hold by an Indian court and they are now available for selection.
Paes is not among the players who wrote to the AITA on Friday.