By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
After agreeing with the French Federation of Basketball to not engage in cooperation with teams from Russia or Belarus, Thomas Heurtel opted to ink a contract with Russian club Zenit. FFBB reacted by releasing a press release Thursday morning.
The French Federation was not previously informed of contacts nor contract negotiations between the veteran point guard and the team based in Saint Petersburg, as stated in the press release.
Heurtel, 33, signed a sworn statement at the start of the summer training camp for the 2022 EuroBasket and 2023 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers committing to not planning to join a Russian or Belarusian side, as noted by FFBB. The rest of the players and members of the coaching staff signed the same document, despite team captain Evan Fournier voicing his concerns.
Potentially joining a team in Russia or Belarus would result in being excluded from the options for the summer international fixtures. Presumably, that was the case with Livio Jean-Charles and Louis Labeyrie being ruled out of EuroBasket and World Cup Qualifiers due to moving to CSKA and UNICS, respectively. The agreement additionally bans players from future international competitions, including the 2024 Olympic Games to be held in Paris, as reiterated by the French Federation.
FFBB supporting the sanctions and measures against Russia and Belarus is directly connected to the players and coaches forbidden to join teams of those countries, per the decision announced earlier in the summer.
Heurtel penned a contract for the 2022-23 season with an option for the 2023-24 season to join Zenit, the team announced Wednesday.
Photo Credit: FIBA.BASKETBALL