Iranian tennis referee Adel Borghei, who travelled to the United States to work at the US Open, has been sidelined due to US sanctions against Iran, the New York Times reported Thursday.
Borghei has a basic visitors visa to the United States but under current US law that would not allow him to work at the year’s final Grand Slam tennis tournament, which begins on Monday at the Flushing Meadows hardcourts.
“This should not be about politics,” Borghei told the Times. “That’s what I have a problem here with. I don’t want to talk about politics. But they are mixing up politics and sports.”
Borghei received an approval letter in May and obtained a visa and made travel plans and was to have been working this week during US Open qualifying matches.
But Borghei was informed by an e-mail sent on behalf of US Tennis Association director of officials Rich Kaufman that US law prevented them from retaining the services of a resident of Iran, a note that included an apology and a hope that he might be able to work at a future Open.
Borghei, 32, has worked seven Wimbledon tournaments and an Australian Open final among referee or umpire duties in more than 30 nations.
He could appeal and potentially receive permission to work at the tournament before the event concludes on September 9 with the men’s final.
Borghei was at an ATP event in Montreal earlier this month when he learned he could not work at the US Open, and he now is staying with a friend in Florida, having already spent between $2,000 to $3,000 in expenses for a tournament spot he no longer has.
“If all I cared about was the money, I wouldn’t come here. I wouldn’t be here now,” Borghei told the Times. “I want to be in this tournament. I want to live the dream. This isn’t about money or politics. It’s about tennis.”