Francis Tiafoe widely criticized for his photo with NHL star Ovechkin

The NHL star has been linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin several times in the past

by Sededin Dedovic
Francis Tiafoe widely criticized for his photo with NHL star Ovechkin
© Base of Ukrainian sports / X screenshot

American tennis star Francis Tiafoe has found himself in the middle of a social media firestorm after meeting and taking a photo with NHL legend Alexander Ovechkin. Ovechkin, the captain of the Washington Capitals, is known for his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and many social media users have criticized Tiafoe for associating with him.

Tiafoe, who is a native of the Washington, D.C., area, has been a fan of the Capitals since childhood. He recently visited the team's practice facility and had the opportunity to meet Ovechkin. The two posed for a photo together, and Tiafoe also gave Ovechkin a tennis racket.

In return, Ovechkin signed a hockey stick and jersey for Tiafoe.

A lot of negative comments on social networks

However, the photo quickly went viral on social media, and Tiafoe was soon inundated with negative comments. Many users accused him of being insensitive to the ongoing war in Ukraine and of supporting Putin by associating with Ovechkin.

"I respected you a lot, both on the field and off it, but not anymore," one of Tiafoe's followers told him, adding a Ukrainian flag to his biography on the social media website. Another reacted in a similar way, writing, "Who on his team allowed him to do this.

Shameful, very disappointing."

There were also comments of support

There were also those who defended Tiafoe, saying that he had done nothing wrong and was simply taking a photo with a player he admired. "It's just a photo," one person commented.

"Francis is a great tennis player and a good person. Leave him alone." Another added, "This is just ridiculous. Francis is not endorsing Putin by taking a photo with Ovechkin. He's just a fan of the team." In the case of Tiafoe, it seems clear that he had no intention of making a political statement by taking a photo with Ovechkin.

He is simply a fan of the Capitals, and he was excited to meet one of the team's most iconic players. However, his actions have been misinterpreted by some. In the future, Tiafoe may want to be more cautious about who he associates with, especially if he wants to avoid controversy.