Norwegian Tennis Federation Could Come Under Criminal Investigation?
Coaches and clubs in Norway are calling for the Norwegian Tennis Federation (Norges Tennisforbund), to be criminally investigated for misappropriation of funds, as claims of financial misconduct are alleged after the NTF's CEO, Alexander Kjaer, is dismissed from his position.
These claims came about shortly after the CEO of the Norwegian Tennis Federation, Alexander Kjaer was dismissed for inappropriate behaviour.
Norway was under strict lockdown due to the present COVID 19 pandemic, this however did not stop Kjaer from abusing his position within the NTF by entering the Oslo Tennis Center and allowing his family to use tennis courts.
A meeting was held with Kjaer and the NTF board, which ultimately led to the departure and dismissal of Alexander Kjaer after a controversial five year tenure as CEO of the Norwegian Tennis Federation.
National and Davis Cup Team coach Anders Haseth and his daughter were also seen entering and leaving the OTC on multiple occasions. Haseth held several training sessions with players inside the Oslo Tennis Center during the Norwegian national lockdown.
Haseth himself seems to have miraculously avoided any disciplinary action from the NTF for his illegal actions?
However, this seems to be only one isolated incident of inappropriate behaviour from Kjaer, who is claimed to have abused his position repeditely, by regular misappropriation of NTF funds.
Information given to TennisChitChat from Oslo based coaches and other sources, claim that Kjaer was often booking courts for his son in the name of the NTF (Norges Tennisforbund).
Kjaer was also on the board of the OTA (Oslo Tennis Arena) as well as CEO of the NTF. The NTF has and still holds a commercial stake in the OTA.
Kjaer is alleged to have taken 14 weeks vacation in 2019, on full pay. He also is alleged to have taken his son to tournaments in Sweden, claiming expenses by stating they were job related meetings.
Kjaer reportedly stacked up a list of expenses using federation funds for personal travel, claiming travel expenses were for work related matters.
He is alleged to have also used funds for travel, accommodation to several Grand Slam tournaments around the world, all paid for by the NTF.
Alexander Kjaer was replaced soon after his dismissal by Aslal Paulsen, who will function as intern CEO for the time being.
However, several Norwegian based coaches, other sources as well as parents we spoke with, are optimistic in hoping that Paulsen will remain in the position on a permanent basis.
They believe Paulsen has the integrity to bring about change within the NTF if he is able to be his own man.
If Paulsen can address all alleged claims of corruption, demand further investigations that further lead to the removal of other personnel within the NTF, positive change can occur and he will gain a unanimously strong support within the Norwegian tennis community.
Coaches, parents and players alike in Norway have sincere respect for Paulsen, believing he is the man that can bring about the change that is so desperately needed within the Norwegian Tennis Federation and tennis community in Norway.
Aslak Paulsen is now the intern CEO of the Norwegian Tennis Federation. He is popular within Norway's tennis community and is the man people hope can bring about change within the NTF.
They are asking for change, they want to see further dismissals within the Norwegian Tennis Federation in what has been seen by some coaches in Norway as many years of a corrupt regime.
We spoke directly with one Swedish tennis coach that has lived and coached in Norway for almost 30 years.
He did not want to be named, but he told us that the NTF have been, in his opinion, a corrupt institute for way too long. Coaches, parents and players alike are anxious for a change in personnel within the NTF.
"We welcome, yes we do want an investigation and a change, at least two people in the NTF need to go," he told us. "Everyone has had enough."
They want change of personnel and a removal of at least two other members of the NTF.
After listening to sources that spoke to us, one thing was clear, and that was the emotion we felt from coaches, players and parents alike. There clearly seems to be a definite serious problem!
Norwegian based coaches, parents and clubs want a full investigation into the NTF's Sports Director, Oivind Sorvold's use of federation funds over several years, claiming he has been the route of financial and ethical corruption within the NTF for many years. "Norwegian tennis is desperate for his removal from the NTF, " one coach claimed.
Oivind Sorvold, the Sports Director of the NTF has come under his fair share of scrutiny over the years during his long and controversial career within the NTF.
Some years ago there was an unfortunate court case that dragged the NTF through the Norwegian court system at great expense. Sorvold was central to that case.
A story too complex for us to want to write about, we still don't understand what actually happened, but it happened and not something that made anyone from both sides look good.
Many are of the opinion that Norwegian tennis can move forward more effectively without Sorvold being involved with the NTF. As one coach put it "Norwegian tennis is desperate for his removal from the NTF, he should have gone years ago."
This seems a very harsh assessment for an individual that has been involved with Norwegian tennis for so long. So what are the issues?
In speaking with several Norwegian coaches, parents, players and other sources including club leaders over the past few days, it's clear that the Norwegian culture creates a difficulty for certain types of issues to be communicated in a direct manner.
It's not the Norwegian way, to rock the boat so to speak. Gaining an understanding of this is difficult for me. I am not familiar with the Norwegian culture, other than how beautiful their country and people are.
I had to listen hard to try understand what was being said to me regarding this.
What was clear though, is that Sorvold is the elephant in the room, so to speak, in Norwegian tennis.
Many see him simply as an eccentric fraud, he holds very little respect or credibility within the Norwegian tennis community, that was something that I picked up on very quickly on listening to people. A big pretender, as one coach colourfully described him.
His job, from what I have gathered, is to work within the club system in Norway, visiting clubs within Norway, communicating with club leaders, players and coaches alike. He apparently neglects to do the job and duties he is in fact paid to do.
Instead, he has worked hard to create an image for himself outside of Norway by travelling religiously to PTR events, declaring himself as a tennis guro, he has also self proclaimed himself as the best video analyst in the world.
We at TennisChitChat have confirmation from other coaches within our tennis network, that Sorvold has actually made these claims about himself.
Sorvold, from the information that was conveyed to us, apparently uses NTF funds to finance his trips outside of Norway to attend events as he pleases.
In addition to all the PTR and other events he regularly travels to, Sorvold also travels to all four Grand Slam events every year on NTF money, staying in upscale accommodation, all of which is paid for by the NTF.
This is all in addition to his 1 Million Norwegian Kroner per year salary.
In 2019 he allegedly took 12 weeks paid vacation. He has also allegedly paid for the development of a tennis app using Federation funds.
On speaking to other coaches that we have contact with, that also regularly attend the same PTR events that Sorvold attends, one thing was very clear. Sorvold promotes his app and himself for his own personal financial gain. There is never any mention of the NTF?
During PTR events Sorvold has definitely declared himself as the best video analyst in the world. He constantly self promotes himself, declaring that he is a tennis genius, repeatedly using the word genius to describe himself to other coaches.
Sorvold definitely presents himself as a big time coach, clearly a fictitious image he has created of himself, maybe that is why the word fraud has been used by his peers to describe him at times.
The problem with that for Sorvold is that back in Norway there is no evidence, and there never has been of his genius as a tennis coach.
Sorvold has claimed to people that he has coached and personally developed Casper Ruud the young Norwegian tennis pro who is presently ranked 36 in the world. These claims are simply not accurate, in fact, it's simply not true.
That story lacks any real credibility!
Sorvold has also claimed to have been on the coaching team of professional women's tennis player Victoria Azarenka. After speaking with coaching sources close to Azarenka, TennisChitChat got an entirely different story.
Azeranka apparently refused to speak with Sorvold after the Norwegian repeatedly offered to do video analysis for her.
Sorvold does do commentary on Eurosport Norway on tennis, a position he apparently maneuvered himself into.
His performances as a commentator on Eurosport Norway have been described by his fellow Norwegians and Swedish coaches working in Norway, as comical and beyond embarrassing at times.
So, what baffles me on hearing such an overwhelming amount of negativity directed towards Sorvold is this, how then has he remained in his position within the NTF for so long?
The main explanation I got was that the leadership and structure within the NTF is a flawed system.
Sorvold is very friendly with certain board members, allowing him to control and influence certain matters when it becomes self serving to his specific personal needs.
Interestingly enough, when Alexander Kjaer first interviewed for the job at the NTF a little over five years ago, he was initially turned down for the position. It was then Oivind Sorvold that used his personal influence with the board to hire Kjaer for the position......why?
Coaches and parents as well as some club leaders in Norway are wanting a thorough investigation into Sorvold's use of federation funds. On speaking to one parent in particular, he was adamant that this should become a police investigation.
The second name that came up regularly was Arne Sartz-Knudsen who is the Economy Director at the NTF, he has been with the NTF since 2006.
ARNE SARTZ-KNUDSEN, the Economy Director for the Norwegian Tennis Federation used his own company to obtain funds and commission from the NTF. Coaches, parents and players are asking for his dismissal from the NTF based on unethical behaviour regarding this and other financials affairs within the NTF.
Knudsen is repeatedly described as being very bad tempered, I heard several examples of inappropriate behaviour in which he lost his temper irrationally, becoming aggressive. Is that relevant in this story? I will let others decide that.
He is seen by some as Sorvold's alleged partner in crime, allowing for Sorvold's unlimited use of NTF funding as he pleases. Sartz- Knudsen being the other person that several sources told us should be removed from the NTF, alongside Sorvold.
One parent describing him as "Sorvold's partner in crime".
We learned that some years ago Sartz-Knudsen put together a contract with an individual by the name of Nicolia Knutson to obtain sponsorship money for the NTF.
The company was owned by Sartz-Knudsen and the NTF paid paid large amounts of commission to his company when they brought in sponsorship money. This information we had confirmed to us.
Six months into that contract, other staff within the NTF began raising concerns about this, calling Sartz-Knudsen's conduct as totally unethical. In addition to this, and at the same time, Sorvold's misappropriate use of NTF funds, specifically for his own personal use was being looked into.
At around that same time, Alexander Kjaer who was then working for Telenor interviewed for the job with the NTF. Kjaer was turned down because he demanded too high a salary.
Kjaer was turned down by the same NTF staff members that had discovered the contract Sartz-Knudsn had set up with his own company, they were also digging deep into Sorvold's use of NTF money.
Sorvold reacted quickly, he manipulated certain board members to remove the staff members that were looking into these affairs. Shortly after this, Sorvold had Kjaer appointed as CEO.
All of this has been conformed by several sources in Norway and is for sure a serious cause for concern. We learned so much about other things that went on but drew the line as to how much we could report in this article.
Casper Ruud is the biggest tennis talent to have ever emerged from Norway. He was coached and developed by his father and also an ex Norwegian tennis pro, Christian Ruud.
If an investigation does take place we sincerely hope that the correct outcome is achieved in the best interests of Norwegian tennis. I have been to Norway a few years ago on a 7 day visit, I have to say it is a very beautiful country with such wonderful people and such a beautiful culture.
The bright side for Norwegian tennis is the emergence of Casper Ruud who is of course the son of Christian Ruud who was also himself also a professional Norwegian tennis player.
Casper was coached and developed by Christian who himself achieved a career highest ranking of 39 in the world in October 1995. Casper looks to be on his way to greater things following in his father's footsteps.
A wonderful story, as well as big boost for Norwegian tennis that could motivate many more young Norwegians to take up the sport. Whatever happens, the potential in Norway is great for tennis, let's hope that change is on the way for Norwegian tennis in general.