Adel Borghei spent Saturday at the United States Open,inside Louis Armstrong Stadium,clad in the navy blue uniform of a referee. He wore sunglasses and made line calls and blended into the background,even if this was far from a normal day at work.
United States sanctions against Iran had prevented Borghei,32,from working at the tournament,and as the first week of the Open neared a conclusion Friday,he looked into booking a return trip to Iran. He figured his appeal would take too long. He did not expect to work this Open. Four hours later,the United States Tennis Association called. The appeal had been approved. Borghei could then do what he came to do: work,and without worrying about politics. I feel I am part of the team now, he said in an interview Saturday on the grounds. That story is done. Now Im looking forward to the next day. I have to do a good job here.
Borghei received confirmation of his employment at the Open in May,obtained a visa and worked at several tournaments all over the world before he arrived in the United States. While in Montreal for the Rogers Cup,he received an e-mail from United States Open officials in which they said current United States law prohibited them from retaining the services of a resident of Iran.
Borghei waited in Florida,in limbo. Two Washington lawyers,Lawyers Clif Burns and Farhad Alavi agreed to work together on his behalf. The lawyers appealed to the Office of Foreign Assets Control,which is part of the United States Treasury Department,to obtain what is called a specific license,which would allow Borghei to referee at this Open. He arrived in New York last Monday and waited. He visited the Statue of Liberty. He waited. He went to Rockefeller Center. He waited. He ascended the Empire State Building. He waited. The tennis federation in Iran tried to help. So did friends. Finally,by noon Friday,Borghei was ready to give up. He called an airline. Then his phone buzzed.
You’re in, he said the U.S.T.A. official told him. You can come.