Kissing tournament goodbye

China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-01 06:55

PARIS - A French player who tried to kiss a television reporter against her will during a live television broadcast at Roland Garros was banished from the tournament on Tuesday for his "reprehensible behavior".

Maxime Hamou, 21, grabbed Eurosport journalist Maly Thomas around the neck and shoulders while she interviewed him following his first-round defeat on Monday.

"It was frankly unpleasant. If it hadn't been live on air, I would have punched him," Thomas told the French edition of The Huffington Post.

Hamou, the world No 287, was subsequently banned from the Roland Garros site by organizers.

"The tournament directors have decided to cancel the accreditation of Maxime Hamou following his reprehensible behavior with a journalist on Monday," said a Roland Garros statement.

A Eurosport spokesman told AFP that Hamou's actions were "highly inappropriate".

Kissing tournament goodbye

"We sincerely regret the incident that occurred during yesterday evening's interview between Maly Thomas and Maxime Hamo," the spokesman said.

"The behavior of the interviewee was highly inappropriate and we do not condone such conduct in any way

"Maly is a highly respected journalist and we are pleased that a full apology is being offered. We apologize to any viewers who may have been affected."

Hamou had already come under fire for his behavior during a qualifying match last week when he screamed at an umpire: "Why are you here?"

That was nothing compared to the kissing incident, however, which caused a storm on Twitter especially as it prompted laughs and applause from studio guests on Eurosport show Avantage Leconte.

"He kisses her by force, she tries to get away, he holds her by the neck and everyone ... laughs ... #tired," tweeted French politician Cecile Duflot.

French journalist Claude Askolovitch tweeted in French: "In a normal world, Maxime Hamou would be in court, charged with sexual assault".

Hamou made a public apology to Thomas on Tuesday.

"I want to offer my deepest apologies to Maly Thomas if she felt hurt or shocked by my attitude," he was quoted by L'Equipe.

"I just had a wonderful week at Roland Garros, living my most beautiful emotions as a tennis player, and I let my enthusiasm be expressed awkwardly towards Maly who I know and respect.

"I am at her disposal to apologize to her in person if she so desires."

The furor had echoes of West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle's post-match interview with a female reporter in Australia last year.

Gayle ignored questions on the game from Mel McLaughlin and instead told her: "Your eyes are beautiful, hopefully we can win this game and then we can have a drink after as well. Don't blush, baby."

Agence France - Presse

(China Daily 06/01/2017 page24)

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