#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 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.
« The WNBA’s commitment to her safe return has not wavered and we hope that the end of this process to bring Brittney Griner back to the United States for good 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 U.S. State Department as they work to bring her home. The bravery Brittney shows in the face of these unimaginable circumstances is a testament to who she is and of the strength it possesses, » concluded USA Basket.
« We are BG »
For the Phoenix Mercury, its « broken-hearted » WNBA team, Brittney Griner’s conviction 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 were watching her. Emotions intensified during 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. 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 won’t stop advocating for her. . ».
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 old? Bring our sister and friend home. #FREEBG“, finally called Grant Williams, winger of 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.