It is a choice that Thomas Heurtel risks paying for a long time. Silver medalist with the France team at Eurobasket 2022, the 33-year-old signed up for two seasons at Zenit Saint Petersburg, Russia, on Wednesday. A transfer that should prevent him from going to the 2023 World Cup, or even the 2024 Olympic Games.
In early August, the French Basketball Federation (FFBB) warned that French players engaged in Russian or Belarusian clubs would not be “more selectable“until the end of the war in Ukraine.
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“The players and staff of the French teams will no longer be selectable if they sign a contract with a Russian or Belarusian club, as long as the conflict (in Ukraine, editor’s note) is ongoing.“, explained the FFBB in a press release. Announced close to the Zénith Saint-Petersburg before the Euro, Thomas Heurtel, 33, had signed, like all the players of the France team, a certificate on honor in pledging not to play for a Russian or Belarusian club.
One and one year optional
Three days after the end of the Euro, where the French lost in the final against Spain (88-76), the former FC Barcelona and Real Madrid player finally decided to join the Russian team. One year and one optional year Requested by AFP, the French Basketball Federation has so far not reacted to the decision of the leader, who has committed to “one year and one optional year“, announces the Zenith on its website. “We would like to welcome Thomas to our team. He is a high quality and experienced player. We think he allows us to achieve our goals for this season“said Xavi Pascual, the Spanish coach of the Zenith, quoted by the club.
The question of the selection in the French team of players playing with Russian or Belarusian clubs had emerged this summer after the signing of French internationals, Livio Jean-Charles (four selections) at CSKA Moscow and Louis Labeyrie (33 caps) in Kazan . This season, Russian and Belarusian clubs cannot participate in the Euroleague, the most prestigious European competition between clubs, as since the start of the invasion of Ukraine. Russia was also excluded from Eurobasket, which took place from September 1 to 18 in Germany, Italy, Georgia and the Czech Republic.
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