As Douglas Hamilton from Reuters reports, Serbia went back on the offensive over Kosovo’s independence on Sunday by blaming the United States for a crisis in the Balkans while its ally Russia accused the Americans of destroying “world order”.
Three days after rioters in Belgrade attacked Western embassies and looted shops, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said it was Washington that was threatening peace and stability.
“The United States must annul the decision to recognize a false state on the territory of Serbia,” Kostunica said. “It must reaffirm U.N. Security Council resolution 1244, which guarantees Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
This is the political side of this crisis but now it also affects Basketball. Sinan Can, who covers the Turkish basketball for eurobasket.com writes:
EFES Pilsen shocked just before the away game against Partizan which will be played Thursday, as four of the American players, Drew Nicholas, Loren Woods, Rashad Wright and Andre Hutson, refused to go Serbia due to security reasons. Efes Pilsen GM Engin Ozerhun said, ‘We do know that the US government warned their citizens not to travel to Serbia, because of the situation in Kosovo, but Serbian government gave us warranty for a safe game and trip as we all had to go there. Scoonie Penn and Kenny Gregory decided to come and play including our US citizen coach David Blatt, but other four Americans refused to travel.
This is definitely unacceptable situation as I can easily say that those four players, Drew Nicholas, Loren Woods, Rashad Wright and Andre Hutson will not play for us anymore.’ Efes Pilsen arrived Belgrade with 8 players, but due to rules there should be 10 players for an official game as there’ll be a meeting with ULEB authorities to play the game with 8 players.
I really don’t want to be the judge if it is right for the players not to go or if it is right to release the players. I just think that their are other really important people like US president Bush, who travels to even more threatening places all the time, doesn’t he?
But then – is it smart to release almost 1/3 of your roster just to set an example? You tell me … (Thanks to our great readers, who brought this topic up).
EDIT: The Euroleague just released an official note regarding the game tomorrow:
Euroleague Basketball has spoken to both Partizan Igokea and Efes Pilsen in order to ensure the utmost security during Thursday night’s Top 16 game in Belgrade. Partizan and local police have guaranteed security for the visitors from Efes Pilsen, having presented a security plan approved by the Turkish Embassy in Belgrade. Euroleague Basketball has a representative present in Belgrade who will attend to any of Efes’s concerns or needs while in the city. “The security of Euroleague teams is of utmost concern and will always be a priority,” Euroleague Basketball CEO Jordi Bertomeu said. “Regarding the Efes players who have not gone to Belgrade, we know that the team is still trying to get them to come to Belgrade, although the game will be played regardless, as scheduled. Euroleague rules do not prohibit games from being played with fewer than the mandated 10 players on the bench, but call for a disciplinary proceeding to be considered when that minimum is not met. If Efes must participate in the game with fewer than 10 players, a course of action will be decided at a later stage.”
At least we have a game!