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news 30 May 12

Poems About Djokovic Spark Gambling Row in Serbia

A book of children's poems about Novak Djokovic, the world's top tennis player, has caused indignation among parents and Djokovic's family.

Belgrade

"There's a betting shop/over there at the end of the stadium/in which every penny/like the miller's last grain/and the beautiful smell of flowers/I would pledge to Nole."

So says a children's poem "I bet on Nole", referring to Novak Djokovic, the world's number-one tennis player.

The poem is part of a book entitled "When I grow up, I will be Nole" written by a poet Blagoje Bakovic.

The book has been put on sale in Serbian schools, sparking an avalanche of negative reactions in Serbia because it appears to promote gambling among minors.

The controversy started on Tuesday, when an angry mother from the city of Novi Sad scanned the poem and put it on Facebook.

Djokovic's PR team reacted soon afterwards, saying the sale and distribution of the book had been carried out without the compliance of Novak Djokovic.

"It is particularly unacceptable that the author has crudely used Novak's name in the song 'I'll bet on Nole' for his own lucrative aims and associated the name of the top athlete with gambling and betting shops," Djokovic's PR said, announcing legal action against the poet.

Blagoje Bakovic, however, believes it is all a misunderstanding and said he would send a copy of the book to the Djokovic family.

Bakovic argues that the poem is not about betting but merely says Djokovic is the best and that there is no need to bet on him, as everyone knows he is the best.

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