DELFI / A.Didzgalvis

In the aftermath of the racist comments made by Lietuvos Rytas president Gedvydas Vainauskas, EuroLeague Basketball has issued a statement stating that the Vilnius-based side “ceases to represent EuroCup clubs at the Board of the competition”.

The comments made by Vainauskas from a Lithuanian TV station surfaced yesterday that having more than two black players on a team is when bad things happen. 

This sparked public outrage from current players and fans who called for immediate action, much like NBA Commissioner Adam Silver did when he imposed a lifetime ban and a fine of $2.5million on shamed former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for making racist remarks towards NBA legend Magic Johnson.

Vainauskas has spoken publicly, apologising for his remarks stating he was “improperly understood”.

“The principal position of BC Lietuvos Rytas is that a basketball player first of all is a professional,” Vainauskas said in this statement.

“Unfortunately a few our foreigners did not meet expectations of the club.

“During the Playoffs they acted irresponsibly and that had a great negative impact on our team’s performance. In my interview, I expressed my disappointment about some of the foreign players selected for the season.

“I apologise, if I was improperly understood.”

Paulius Zukauskas / Lietuvos Rytas
Lietuvos Rytas reached the Top 16 of the EuroCup last season. Photo: Paulius Zukauskas / Lietuvos Rytas

EuroLeague Basketball, who runs the EuroCup, which Lietuvos Rytas competes in has also issued a statement stating that Vainauskas’ views are not shared and that his words were deeply offensive, harmful, and contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect.

“Euroleague Basketball wishes to clarify the following: by no means do these words represent neither the sport of basketball, the European basketball family nor the Euroleague Basketball organisation at any level,” the press release said.

“On the contrary, European basketball has always been and will continue being an example of integration on and off the court, where cultures, races and religions have always come together under one passion, the sport of basketball. It is precisely these many cultures, languages, races and ways of understanding and living the sport which makes it a unique and enriching experience as well as a tool for bringing people together, people who have made history with some of the greatest performances in European basketball.”

A disciplinary hearing has been opened against Lietuvos Rytas and the matter will be discussed at the next EuroCup General Assembly.

It has been proposed that Lietuvos Rytas “ceases to represent EuroCup clubs at the Board of the competition”.

EuroLeague Basketball have been contacted by TalkBasket for further comment, but are yet to reply.