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#FreeBG, the sports world calls for the release of the basketball player

According to her agent, she has become “a political pawn”. 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”.

After Joe Biden’s strong words, 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 statement. with the NBA. Both bodies deplored the “unjust 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 that the end of this process of bringing Brittney Griner back to the United States for good is approaching,” concluded the league commissioner. , 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.

“We are BG”

For the Phoenix Mercury, its “broken heart” 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 it to be forgotten,” added the Arizona club.

Before the start of a WNBA championship game in Connecticut, the Mercury and Sun players observed 42 seconds of silence, in support of the one who usually wears this number on her jersey.

Gathered in the center of the floor of the Mohegan Sun Arena, the basketball players were all held by the waist, heads bowed, some in tears, like many spectators in the audience who donned t-shirts bearing the image of the star of the women’s basketball, with the inscription “We are BG” (“We are BG”).

Prior to the game, Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard said: “We’re going to play, but how can we focus on this game? It’s such an emotional day for us. “It was really hard to see BG today and hear his words. The players looked at her. Emotions intensified throughout the day,” she added.

Negotiations for a prisoner exchange

Several other sportswomen and sportsmen expressed the same dismay. “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, former women’s basketball star Swin Cash asked him: “Please (…) bring Brittney Griner home! We will not stop advocating for it…”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that Washington had made a “substantial offer” to Moscow to free Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan, imprisoned in Russia for espionage.

Many voices have called on the government to continue this negotiation process. ” 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.

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