Despite the invasion of Ukraine, several American players will continue to frequent Russian clubs next season. This will probably no longer be the case for Americans.
If UMMC Yekaterinburg, and to a lesser extent Dynamo Kursk, have reigned over Europe in the women’s basket, it is thanks to a massive influx of foreign labor, mainly American. Last season, Brittney Griner, Allie Quigley, Belgian Emma Meesseman, Bosnian Jonquel Jones wore the jersey of UMMC, and Natasha Howard and Epifanny Prince that of Dynamo. If the best players in the world went to Russia after the WNBA season, it was obviously because of the salaries offered.
“In 2018, we won the WNBA championship, I became MVP and made about $56,000,” Breanna Stewart said. “Then I went to Russia and made 900,000 per season. So, for a month of games in Russia, I earn more than for the whole season in the WNBA. People don’t understand why I play there, but I think the answer to that question is obvious. »
Even if the WNBA has increased salaries, we are far from the insane emoluments offered in Russia. Stewart doesn’t make more than $228,000 a season with the Seattle Storm. But the door probably slammed shut following the misadventure of Brittney Griner, accused of drug trafficking (!) and locked up in a Moscow prison since February. It does not make you want to try the adventure even for a lot of money.
“Obviously, there probably won’t be any Americans in Russian clubs in the years to come,” Dynamo Kursk executive director Victoria Sgonnikova told Sport Express.
It should also be noted that from next season the limit for foreign female players in the Premier League will also become stricter: a maximum of five for the season, and only three on the scoresheet. Last season, there were six and four respectively, and… the possibility of participating in European cups.
Otherwise, the main Russian clubs are outbidding Russian players. Thus, Yekaterinburg entered into a long-term contract with the main talent of Russian women’s basketball, Anastasia Olairi Kosu. This development corresponds to the policy of the Russian Federation, which aims to relaunch a strong national team. Recall that Russia, which has finished third at the World Championships three times and won bronze at the Olympics twice in a row, has not qualified for the last two Olympics. It will also be difficult to get a ticket for Paris 2024, but for another reason. Due to FIBA sanctions, it is unlikely that the Russians will be able to participate in EuroBasket 2023, the first justice of the peace on the way to the Olympics.
Photo: Breanna Stewart (FIBA)