• Football

Joorabchian blamed after players go AWOL

ESPN staff
July 21, 2014
Douglas Costa is one of the players who have not returned to Ukraine © Getty Images

Shakhtar Donetsk boss Mircea Lucescu has hit out at Kia Joorabchian after six of his players refused to return to Ukraine following a friendly with Lyon.

French TV channel Canal+ reported that Douglas Costa, Fred, Dentinho, Alex Teixiera and Facundo Ferreyra - as well as one more unnamed team-mate - remained in France after Sunday's match.

Shakhtar president Rinat Akhmetov confirmed the news to the R-Sport agency in quotes reported on the club's official website and identified Brazilian defender Ismaily as the sixth player.

Canal+ claimed the players have personal security concerns due to the on-going conflict in Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was only 31 miles from Donetsk when it came down on Thursday. But Lucescu alleged that Joorabchian convinced the players not to return.

"It is necessary to explain what happened," Lucescu saidon the club's official website. "It is their agents' work. A few hours before the kick-off against Lyon, Kia showed up and after the game, at two in the morning, he took our players away.

"The very talented ones: Teixeira, Douglas, Fred. The rest are not so important. He wanted to do the same to Adriano, Ilsinho, Marlos and Taison, but they refused. Ferreyra has another agent, but he also expects to capitalise on the situation."

Joorabchian was involved in taking Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano to West Ham in 2006 as part of a third-party ownership deal, but the Premier League has now banned such ownership of players. Joorabchian also had close links with Manchester City and played the role of an advisor for Mark Hughes.

Last year, Joorabchian said it was wrong to blame him for Queens Park Rangers' transfer record during the season when they were relegated from the Premier League as he had only been involved in bringing one of the 16 players signed under Hughes.

Lucescu added: "The situation is unpleasant, because it all happened at the last moment. After the match with Lyon, the players were giving interviews: 'It's okay, we are going back, we will work.' And then, at the hotel, a different story happened."

Asked whether he expected the players to return, he said: "We'll see. We already had an issue with Ilsinho after winning the UEFA Cup - just the same.

"After leaving Shakhtar, he played for some amateurs in the fourth division in Brazil. Then the court in Lausanne ruled that he owed the club €4 million (£3.1m). Then he apologised and said that he would like to return, being a very good player now."

"I don't rule out that these players will return to the team quickly, and some of them tomorrow. Players have contracts that they have to abide by. If they do not come, They will be the first to suffer," he said.

"Each of them has a minimum release clause, which is tens of millions of euros. If someone wants to reduce this amount by a million, then such a decision is our right. There won't be clearance sale!"

Akhmetov stressed that the players would be protected if they returned to Donetsk. "Hopefully, the mind and heart will prevail over misunderstanding, and the players will not follow temptation and fear," he said. "Especially since there is nothing to fear. We are ready to provide security. We will not take risks and in any case we won't bring players to dangerous places.

"We want to play in Donetsk very much but, unfortunately, at the moment we cannot do it. We will play where we will be allowed to - we would like to do it in Kharkiv. The decision regarding the championship is taken by the Ukrainian Football Federation. Through our game, we will call for peace and try to bring joy to our fans."

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