It is with sadness and anger that the sports world greeted the sentencing of American basketball player Brittney Griner to 9 years in prison by a Russian court for drug trafficking, calling for action to “free BG”.
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After the strong words of Joe Biden, deeming this verdict “unacceptable” and asking “Russia to immediately release” Griner, it was the North American Women’s Basketball League (WNBA), which reacted first in a joint press release. with the NBA.
Both bodies deplored the “unfair and regrettable” conviction of the women’s basketball star, adding “the verdict (…) was predictable, and Brittney remains wrongfully detained”.
“The WNBA’s commitment to her safe return has not wavered, and we hope the end of this process to bring Brittney Griner back to the United States permanently is approaching,” the league commissioner said. , Cathy Engelbert.
The American Basketball Federation also expressed its disappointment, but not its surprise “given what we know of the procedure”.
“We continue to support BG in every way we can and remain engaged with the US State Department as they work to bring her home. The bravery Brittney shows in the face of these unimaginable circumstances is a testament to the person she is and the strength she possesses,” USA Basket concluded.
For the Phoenix Mercury, its “broken-hearted” WNBA team, the conviction of Brittney Griner marks an “important step” in “the nightmare endured for 168 days by our sister, BG”.
“We will not allow her to be forgotten. We are BG,” added the Arizona club.
Several sportswomen and sportsmen have expressed such dismay.
“Seeing BG behind those bars breaks my heart. I pray hard for her today,” tweeted Diamond DeShields, who plays for Chicago Sky, the defending WNBA champion team.
Speaking to Joe Biden, former women’s basketball star Swin Cash asked him: “Please (…) bring Brittney Griner home! We will not stop pleading in his favor…”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that Washington had made a “substantial offer” to Moscow to release Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan, imprisoned in Russia for espionage.
Many voices have called on the government to continue this negotiation process, with the player’s agent, Lindsay Colas, stressing on Twitter that the sentencing “proves what we’ve known all along, which is that Brittney is being used as a political pawn “.
“Not possible ! 9 years ? Bring our sister and friend home. #FREEBG”, finally called Grant Williams, winger for the Boston Celtics, beaten in the NBA finals in June by Golden State.
These “FREEBG” (“Free BG”) were relayed from all sides on social networks.