UpdatedAugust 4, 2022 at 8:55 pm
Condemnation of Britney GrinerSad, shocked and angry, the sports world is calling to “liberate BG”
The American basketball star, who has been detained in Russia since February, was found guilty of cannabis trafficking on Thursday and sentenced to nine years in prison. Reactions multiply.
With sadness and anger, the sports world met the sentence of the Russian court to American basketball player Britney Griner to 9 years in prison for drug trafficking, calling for action to “liberate BG.”
After the high-profile words of Joe Biden, who considered this verdict “unacceptable” and asked “Russia to immediately release” Griner, it was the North American Women’s Basketball League (WNBA) that was the first to react in a joint press release with the NBA. Both bodies deplored the women’s basketball star’s “unfair and deplorable” conviction, adding that “the verdict (…) was predictable and Britney continues to be wrongfully detained.”
“The WNBA’s commitment to her safe return has not wavered, and we hope the end of this process to bring Britney Griner back to the United States permanently is nearing,” league commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement. The American Basketball Federation also expressed its disappointment, but not surprise, “given what we know about the procedure.”
“We continue to support BG in every way we can and continue to work with the US State Department as they work to bring her home. The courage that Britney has shown in the face of these unimaginable circumstances is a testament to who she is and the strength she possesses,” USA Basket concluded.
“We are BG”
For the Phoenix Mercury, his heartbroken WNBA team, Britney Greener’s sentencing marks a “significant milestone” in “the 168-day nightmare our sister B.G. lived through.” “We will not let this be forgotten,” the Arizona club added.
Before the start of the 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 his jersey.
Gathered in the center of the Mohegan Sun Arena, the basketball players were all holding their waists with their heads bowed, some in tears, as were many in the audience, who wore T-shirts with the image of the women’s basketball star, which read “We are BG” (“We are BG”) .
Before 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 very hard today to see BG and hear his words. The players looked at her. Emotions intensified during the day, ”she added.
The #FREEBG hashtag is spreading like wildfire
The same indignation was expressed by several other athletes and athletes. “When I see BG behind bars, my heart breaks. I pray for her today,” wrote Diamond DeShields, who plays for the Chicago Sky, the reigning WNBA champion team. Speaking to Joe Biden, former women’s basketball star Swin Cash asked him, “Please (…) bring Britney Griner home! We will not stop interceding in his favor … “.
Last week, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Washington had made a “substantial offer” to Moscow to release Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan, who are imprisoned in Russia for espionage.
Many voices urged the government to continue this negotiation process, with the player’s agent Lindsey Colas tweeting that the verdict “proves what we’ve known all along, which is that Britney is being used as a political pawn.”
“Impossible! 9 years old? Bring our sister and friend home. #FREEBG,” Grant Williams, the Boston Celtics winger who lost the NBA Finals in June to Golden State, finally called. Those “FREEBGs” (“Free BGs”) rebroadcast from all sides in social networks.