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‘Heavy hearts’ as foreign players and coaches quit Russian clubs


Paris (AFP) – As the invasion of Ukraine continues, foreign players and coaches are fleeing Russian football, handball and basketball clubs.

The most high-profile departures are in football.

Daniel Farke has left Krasnodar without coaching a game.

The German, who was appointed in January, took his assistants Edmund Riemer, Chris Domogalla and Christopher John with him.

The former Norwich manager told German media: “we have now, with a heavy heart,” asked Krasnodar “to terminate our contracts.”

“The current political development and the pleas from our children, wives, families and friends to come home, as well as the disappearance of all sporting prospects, led to this well-considered decision,” said Farke.

“The gravity of life has now unfortunately caught up with us.”

Russian media reported that Polish international Grzegorz Krychowia has also asked to leave Krasnodar.

Another German coach, Markus Gisdol, has quit Lokomotiv Moscow. He told German daily Bild that he could not “exercise his vocation in a country whose leader is responsible for a war”. 

Andriy Voronin, a former Ukrainian international, has quit as assistant coach at Dynamo Moscow, second in the Russian league.  

“I can’t live in a country that’s at war with my country,” he told Munich-based Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

“Everything that’s happening in my home country is a catastrophe, a big catastrophe, it depresses me a lot.”

Another Ukrainian, defender Yaroslav Rakitskiy, terminated his contract with Zenit St. Petersburg on Wednesday. 

Brazilian defender Pablo has also left the club according to the Russian media.  

Krasnodar midfielder Remy Cabella, who is recuperating from an injury in France, made it known on social media that he would wait before returning to Russia. 

The decisions by both the European handball and basketball federations to expel clubs from their top competitions has helped provoke an exodus.  

Belarusian club Meshkov Brest, bottom of their eight-team group in the handball Champions League, have lost Polish, Slovenian, and French players and Spanish and Portuguese coaches. 

All of them could return if the “situation stabilises,” said the club. 

Russian clubs were doing better in the 18-team basketball Euroleague.

Zenit St. Petersburg, who were fifth, and CSKA, sixth, have both announced the departure of foreign players for what the Moscow club called “family and personal reasons related to the current situation.”

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