Thomas Heurtel in Russia: the Federation “was not informed at any time”

Did the French Basketball Federation (FFBB) know that Thomas Heurtel, a member of the France team beaten last Sunday in the Euro final by Spain, was then about to continue his career in Russia? No, she said Thursday morning, while the signing of the leader at Zenith Saint Petersburg is controversial since the Blues had undertaken not to play in Russia because of the war in Ukraine.

The leader’s commitment to the Zénith for one year (plus one optional) was announced on Wednesday, barely three days after the last match of the Blues. In a press release published Thursday morning, the Federation claims to have learned of it on Twitter, being surprised more at the timing than at the substance of the case, since it acknowledges having been aware of Russian leads for the 33-year-old leader.

“If the FFBB was informed that Thomas Heurtel had contacts with foreign clubs, including Russian ones, at no time was it informed that a contract had been signed or was being signed with a Russian club, she writes. […] The player had signed the sworn statement at the start of the France team rally at the end of July, indicating that he was not committed and that he was not planning to sign with a Russian club or Belarusian. »

Private clash of JO?

At the end of July, the FFBB had therefore had a certificate signed stating that “players and (members of) staff who sign a contract with a Russian or Belarusian club can no longer be selected as long as the exclusion measures from all international competitions are in force. »

“This decision also applies to players and staff members who have already signed with a Russian or Belarusian club. It is indicated that if this commitment was not respected, the player or the member of the staff would then no longer respect the selection criteria for the next international deadlines, including the 2024 Olympic Games.could we still read there.

The Federation recalls this in its press release on Thursday morning, thus repeating the terms: “if Thomas Heurtel were to play with the Zénith club […]the playmaker would then not meet the selection criteria for the next international events, including the 2024 Olympic Games.

The only unknown would then remain the duration of the maintenance of the exclusion measures, even if their lifting seems very unlikely in the short or medium term insofar as the Russian regime does not seem ready to end its war in Ukraine – it has announced on Wednesday a “partial mobilization” of its reservist soldiers.

But in wanting to clarify Thomas Heurtel’s situation, the Federation may have fueled an ambiguity on Thursday, explaining to journalists from L’Équipe and AFP present at the Women’s World Cup in Australia that if the player decided not to activate his optional contract year and to leave Russia next June, “the federal office will decide[it] if he becomes eligible for the 2023 World Cup (August 25-September 10) and the Olympics”. Not quite the terms of the commitment made in mid-summer…

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