Six Shakhtar players refuse to return to Ukraine

Club president Rinat Akhmetov has confirmed that Alex Teixeira, Fred, Dentinho, Douglas Costa, Facundo Ferreyra and Ismaily remain absent without leave because of safety concerns.
Shakhtar Donetsk has confirmed that six players have failed to return to Ukraine because of the current political situation within the country.

The reigning Ukrainian Premier League champions are currently unable to host games at the Donbass Arena because of violent clashes involving pro-Russian separatists, which now occupy the surrounding region.

Alex Teixeira, Fred, Dentinho, Douglas Costa, Facundo Ferreyra and Ismaily have all decided against returning to Donetsk as a consequence, but Shakhtar president Rinat Akhmetov is adamant that those who have gone absent without leave will not be sold at knockdown prices.

"It is true that six players have not come [back]," he told the R-Sport agency. "But I don’t rule out that these players will return to the team quickly, and some of them tomorrow [Tuesday]. Players have contracts that they have to abide by. If they do not come, I think, they will be the first to suffer."

"Each of them has a minimum release clause, which is tens of millions of euro. If someone wants to reduce this amount by a million, then such a decision is our right. There won’t be clearance sale!" he continued. "But, hopefully, the mind and heart will prevail over misunderstanding, and the players will not follow temptation and fear.

"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."

Akhmetov said the team hopes it can play its matches at home soon but in the interim hopes it won't have to range too far afield.

"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," he said. "But the decision regarding the championship is taken by the Ukrainian Football Federation. Regardless, through our game, we will call for peace and try to bring joy to our fans."