Ukrainian Basketball Team Donetsk Quits VTB League Due To Political Climate
The basketball club Donetsk, based in the Russian-speaking eastern part of Ukraine, has pulled out of the VTB United League as the economic and political situation in the country deteriorates against the backdrop of escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea. The league's directorate has approved the squad's request to leave the league, which Donetsk blamed on the uncertain political and economic climate in Ukraine. VTB League's directorate said, “Based on information [received from Donetsk], the extremely unstable political and economic situation had a negative impact on the club. Foreign and leading local players have left the club, and it can no longer guarantee safety to squads coming to Donetsk for games.”
A NEW LOCATION: The directorate also made the decision to move two upcoming games of Ukraine's other squad in the league, Mariupol-based Azovmash, to the Russian cities of Samara and Volgograd, respectively. Donetsk was not available for comment. The squad continues to play in the Ukrainian league, where it is currently in second place, behind Khimik Yuzhny. The VTB League features 20 teams from the former Soviet republics, Poland and the Czech Republic. The future of many Ukrainian professional teams is currently uncertain because of the the poor economic situation in the country and possible secession of the Black Sea peninsular region of Crimea.
Vladimir Kozlov is a writer in Moscow.