By Eurohoops team/ email@example.com
In the aftermath of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 21 makeup game between Zalgiris Kaunas and Crvena Zvezda mts, the Serbian side released an official statement commenting on the players not holding the “stop the war” banner in Ukraine’s colors, Aaron White’s reaction, additional situations developing during the game in Lithuania, and more.
— Eurohoops (@Eurohoopsnet) April 3, 2022
Per the press release: “KK Crvena Zvezda mts, in order to prevent any speculations and politicizing of our players’ gestures before the game in Kaunas and basketball in general, is forced to make a statement regarding all the events during the postponed Euroleague Round 21 game against Zalgiris in Kaunas.
KK Crvena Zvezda, as a sports club and a representative of the Republic of Serbia which took a clear position on the conflict in Ukraine, follows the official stance of our country. In official communication with Euroleague and Zalgiris, it was made clear a few days before the match in Lithuania that politicization will not be allowed and will not carry a banner in the colors of any country because that would make it a participant in the manipulation and politicization of one of the most humane and universal slogans “STOP THE WAR”.
Both the players and the professional staff of Crvena Zvezda followed and acted in accordance with the decision of the highest bodies of the club that made such a decision, including the player of our club Aaron White, who without objections obeyed the club’s decision and showed by his example that he is a part of the team and the club.
That is why, with this statement, Crvena Zvezda defends its player who unjustifiably came under attack from the public, because he stands for the same values as the club whose colors he wears, and that is peace, end of this war and suffering of innocent civilians and children! The case of Aaron White, who also played for Zalgiris (which abused this situation as a club) and currently plays for Crvena Zvezda, shows all the absurdity and severity of the situation we all found ourselves in, but also the danger of political interference in sports!
As a team we were told to not touch the flag. I would like to make it clear I don’t support the war and I want peace in our world ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ https://t.co/cD3t9YlTIk
— Aaron White (@Aaron_White30) April 3, 2022
That is why we appeal to all Zvezda followers not to condemn Aaron White and not mix him up in politics (and relations that he may not even understand), but to support him as an athlete, a Crvena Zvezda player who has been behaving like a top professional since coming to our club, and who stood by his team unquestioningly on Sunday night and did what many in his (specific) situation would not do!
To our great regret, our request not to hold a banner that is not neutral was not granted (perhaps under someone’s pressure), and everything after that represented a political performance and not sports, and seriously violated the basic principles of Euroleague and basketball!
KK Crvena Zvezda cannot interpret differently the chanting “F… you Serbia”, attacking and expelling Crvena Zvezda fans just because they carried the flag of our country, taking away the flag of the Republic of Serbia which is a sovereign state, displaying the NATO flag (which in our country because of already known reasons and NATO aggression represents a provocation) and the promotion of the slogan “Glory to Ukraine”, which in our country has a completely different historical connotation and meaning!
Should we ask ourselves today, in the year 2022, why in 1999, during the NATO aggression and the killing of thousands of innocent civilians and children, while the Zalgiris basketball players were winning this competition, they did not carry the banner “Stop the aggression against Yugoslavia”?
Following yesterday’s events, can Crvena Zvezda now rightly demand that all participants of the games in Belgrade carry a “Kosovo is Serbia” banner in order to further internationalize the problem of trying to seize our southern province and 17 percent of the territory of the Republic of Serbia?
Crvena Zvezda has always tried to be a good host to visiting clubs and to protect them from any politicization, but also to promote peace, which we have confirmed in several games since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine by wearing banners with anti-war messages!
That is why we now have every moral and other right to expect the Euroleague to react urgently, initiate disciplinary proceedings and adequately sanction this violation of the basic principles and Bylaws of the Euroleague, and punish those responsible for politicized and obviously prepared incidents and harassing our team, our fans and insulting our country and our club in Kaunas.
Otherwise, the door opens to opportunities for all participants in Euroleague competitions to use their matches to promote politics, their problems and dissatisfactions, and not sports. It is clear what that leads to…
Regardless of all the events in Kaunas, Crvena Zvezda will continue to promote the true values of basketball and the competitions in which it participates.”
Wrapping up the 2021-22 edition of Europe’s premier club continental competition, Crvena Zvezda will welcome Anadolu Efes in Belgrade Friday. However, EuroLeague basketball will be back in the Serbian capital between May 19 and 21 for the season-ending championship-crowning Final Four.
Photo Credit: EuroLeagueBasketball.net