According to his agent, he has become “a political pawn”. With sadness and anger the sports world greeted the sentence of American basketball player Brittney Griner to 9 years in prison by a Russian court for drug trafficking, calling for action to “free BG”.
After the strong words of Joe Biden, who considered this verdict “unacceptable” and asked “Russia to immediately release” Griner, the North American Women’s Basketball League (WNBA), the first to react to a joint statement. with the NBA. “unjustified and regrettable” conviction of the women’s basketball star, adding “the verdict (…) was predictable, and Brittney remains wrongfully imprisoned”.
“The WNBA’s commitment to her safe return is unwavering and we hope that the end of this process to bring Brittney Griner back to the United States for good is near,” the league commissioner concluded. , Cathy Engelbert.
The American Basketball Federation also expressed its disappointment, but not the surprise “given what we know of the procedure”. “We continue to support BG in every way we can and remain in contact with the US State Department as they work to bring him home. The courage Brittney has shown in the face of these unimaginable circumstances is a testament to man that he is and the strength that he has,” concluded USA Basket.
For the Phoenix Mercury, its “broken heart” WNBA team, Brittney Griner’s conviction marks an “important step” in the “horror that our brother, BG, has endured for 168 days”. “We will not let it be forgotten,” added the Arizona club.
Before the start of a WNBA championship game in Connecticut, Mercury and Sun players observed 42 seconds of silence, in support of the one who usually wears this number on his jersey.
Gathered in the middle of the floor at Mohegan Sun Arena, the basketball players all held each other by the waist, heads bowed, some crying, as did many of the spectators in the t-shirt-clad spectators. -shirt that carries the image of the star of women. basketball, with the inscription “Kami BG” (“Kami BG”).
Before the game, Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard said: “We will play, but how can we focus on this game? It is an emotional day for us. “It is very difficult to see BG today and hear his words. The players looked at him. Emotions ran high throughout the day,” he added.
Negotiations for a prisoner exchange
Many other sportsmen and women expressed the same sadness. “Seeing BG behind these bars breaks my heart. Praying hard for her today,” tweeted Diamond DeShields, who plays for the defending WNBA champion Chicago Sky. Speaking to Joe Biden, the former basketball star of the woman Swin Cash asked him: “Please (…) bring home Brittney Griner! We will not stop promoting it…”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that Washington had made a “big offer” to Moscow to free Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan, who are jailed in Russia for espionage.
Many voices are calling on the government to continue this negotiation process. “Impossible! 9 years? Take our sister and friend home. #LIBREBG “Finally called Grant Williams, winger of the Boston Celtics, defeated in the NBA Finals last June by Golden State. These “FREEBGs” (“Free BG”) are relayed from all parts of social networks.