Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra said on Wednesday that Novak Djokovic’s message written after his match at Roland-Garros on Monday, calling Kosovo “the heart of Serbia”, was “not appropriate”. Asked about France 2, the minister, former director of the French Tennis Federation (FFT), indicated that “it is not appropriate”. “This shouldn’t happen again,” she said, calling the message “militant” and “very political.”

She clarified that the tournament director “was able to exchange with him and with those around him”, referring to the principle of “neutrality of the playing field”. Asked to comment on the expression of political positions during this grand slam tournament, such as those of Ukrainian athletes since the Russian invasion of their country, the minister stressed that she did not put “the two subjects on the same level”.

“When we carry messages that are in defense of human rights, messages that bring people together around universal values, an athlete is free to do so,” she said. But, when it comes to an “militant, very political” message like that of the Serbian player, “this must not happen again”. On the other hand, “what is happening for Ukrainians on the circuit is so painful, so difficult,” she explained.

“We can understand, even if we would like there to always be fair play until the end of shaking hands, there is a pain that is there, which I respect,” she added. On Sunday, Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk did not greet Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka after their match, which earned her the whistles from the Roland-Garros public.

After his match won Monday against the American Aleksandar Kovacevic 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7/1), Novak Djokovic, armed with his marker, wrote a few words in Cyrillic on the camera of the Philippe- Chatrier: “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia!” Stop the violence. This exit from the world number 3 comes as northern Kosovo has been the scene for several days of clashes between members of the international force led by NATO (KFOR) and Serb demonstrators who are demanding the departure of Albanian mayors from the locality.

Serbia, supported by its Russian and Chinese allies, has never recognized the independence proclaimed in 2008 by its former province and tensions regularly erupt between Belgrade and Pristina. The Roland-Garros ethics charter prohibits political or religious positions. But the FFT published a rather sibylline press release, without addressing the question of a possible sanction: “The debates which cross the international news sometimes invite themselves on the sidelines of the tournament, it is understandable”, simply declared the federation.