The incident took place during an ITF Juniors tournament.
Tennis fans and officials witnessed an Oscars-like moment during a match at the Tennis Foundation Ghana Open. French tennis player Michael Kouame slapped his opponent Ghana’s Raphael Nii Ankrah after facing an upset in the opening round.
Michael Kouame was the favourite to win the match at the ITF Juniors tournament in Accra, Ghana. However, he couldn’t perform as per expectations and lost the match 2-6, 7-6, 6-7 in three sets. After the contest, both players walked up to the centre of the court where the French youngster slapped Raphael Nii Ankrah.
The officials rushed to the court quickly after the incident, but both the players kept arguing about the incident. Soon after the match, the video of the incident went viral on social media, with people comparing it with the recent Oscars incident where actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage. The incident sent shockwaves around the world and the entertainment industry.
According to reports, the International Tennis Federation told USA Today that they were “reviewing the matter further under the code of conduct for the ITF World Tennis Tour Juniors to establish if any further action is required.”
Player apologies on Instagram
Michael Kouame also issued an apology on Instagram after the shocking incident. He wrote, “I sincerely regret my actions on Tuesday at the ITF Tournament in Ghana against Raphael Nii Ankrah. I regretfully struck him after an extremely frustrating and intense match.”
“During the course of the match, I was repeatedly verbally abused by a large number of individuals in the crowd, including insults to my mother, in particular. However, that does not excuse my behaviour. I would like to publicly apologize to Raphael. I was wrong and completely out of line.”
The youngster added, “I accept any consequences as a result of my behaviour from the ITF governing body and will use this time to reflect on how I can better manage challenging situations like these in the future in a manner that accurately reflects my character.”
Earlier, Ankrah started the match on a good note and won the first set with ease. Kouame came back into the match after winning the second set which went into the tie-breaker. The third set also went into a tie-breaker but this time the local star won it to move into the next round of the tournament.