With an official statement from the host nation’s basketball federation and little more, Team Azerbaijan has been announced as no longer participating in this summer’s European Championship Women Division C.
Armenian Basketball Federation president Grachya Rostomyan stated simply that “Azerbaijani basketball team has rejected” the offer to play in the competition. FIBA Europe had informed the ABF of the decision on Tuesday.
Azerbaijan Basketball Federation executive director Rustam Rustamov later explained that “in November of last year when we appealed for participation in the European championship, we did not know where it will be held. This January, FIBA Europe decided to hold the contest in Yerevan. Taking into account the fact that this is a female team and considering the wishes of the basketball players and their parents, it was decided to reject participation in the contest in the hostile country.”
Modern-day Armenia and Azerbaijan have been involved in a territorial conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and current relations may be called “uneasy” at best.
Scoring hosting privileges for the FIBA competition was quite a coup for Armenia, and the championship bracket represents one of the biggest basketball tournaments held there in recent years. The FIBA tourney will be held in Yerevan from June 28 to July 3, with seven teams now competing. Group A features teams from Armenia, Andorra, Moldova and Gibraltar, while now shorthanded Group B has Wales, Scotland and Malta.
Azerbaijan is currently not ranked among FIBA’s top 69 women’s programs.