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Jul 22, 2014

Shakhtar stars 'won't risk lives'

Six of Shakhtar Donetsk's best players have refused to return to Ukraine after playing a friendly against Lyon in France.

Mircea Lucescu has told lequipe.fr he expects three of his missing Shakhtar Donetsk players to return to the club, but Douglas Costa, Alex Teixeira and Dentinho insisted in Globo that their safety must come first.

Six Shakhtar players failed to take the plane back to Donetsk following their club's friendly defeat to Lyon in Annecy on Sunday, opting to remain in the Swiss city of Geneva.

The club confirmed that Brazilian players Costa, Teixeira, Dentinho, Fred and Ismaily as well as Argentine forward Facundo Ferreyra had failed to return, apparently having cited personal security concerns due to the on-going conflict in eastern Ukraine as a reason not to return with the rest of the squad.

Lucescu, though, blamed Kia Joorabchian, telling the Segodnya newspaper the agent wanted "to make use of the situation in the country and get the players for free," and he added: "Ferreyra has another agent, but he also expects to capitalise on the situation."

Later on Monday, Lucescu said only two of Joorabchian's players, Costa and Teixeira, were still refusing to return.

"Fred, Dentinho, Ismaily should come back," the Romanian said. "[Carlos] Tevez's agent, Joorabchian, who had convinced them not to take the plane, has abandoned them. For him, there's only Teixeira and Douglas Costa. They're two key players who have contracts till 2018 and big release clauses. He hopes to get them released. It's not right. That's not how things work in football."

Lucescu, whose team begin their domestic campaign with the Ukrainian Super Cup on Tuesday evening, was unable to shed any light on the whereabouts of Ferreyra.

Despite his comments, Dentinho suggested that he had no plans to return and insisted that Joorabchian had not had any influence on his decision.

"We made our decision exclusively with our families before meeting with the group of Brazilians," he said. "We want to clarify that we don't have any issues with the club. We have always turned up to play in previous seasons, within the dates required, and with strict respect to what the managers have put together.

"But this time, given the conflict within the country, we are afraid and don't want to put the lives of our families, nor our own, at risk."

He added: "I want to play but cannot allow the people I love to be placed in danger. I hope the club can find the best solution.

"We have read that the embassies of the United States, England, Switzerland and Brazil have recommended that people do not travel to the region. Would you send your child there at this time?"

Douglas Costa and Alex Teixeira signed for Shakhtar in 2010.

Meanwhile, Teixeira and Costa have both stressed that they are not trying to force an exit and that their safety is their focus.

"Right now, the biggest concern we have is the safety of ourselves and our families," Teixeira said. "We respect the decisions of those who decided to return [to Ukraine]. However, we are consulting with the club directors and asking for the club's position.

"We already know that Donetsk airport is closed. We suggested that we could train outside the country until things calm down. The club's first offer was to stay in Kharkiv, then a few hours later they told us they decided to move us to Kiev. Where would our families -- our children -- go?"

Costa echoed Teixeira's comments, adding: "I want to clarify that I am not abandoning the club. I'm scared. Everything we read, see and hear indicates that the situation in the country is quite complicated.

"We don't even know what conditions we're able to train under, let alone where we can play. To play we must travel. How will our safety be assured?

"I have no problem with Shakhtar. I like the club, the people, the city, but I fear there will be other situations of conflict and eventually we will travel and when we are separated from our families, something worse may happen.

"I regret that all this is happening, but we risk our lives by being in the region. We have suggested to the club that we will remain in Switzerland to train until the situation is resolved.

"We want to stay at the club but we need to be able to work without being put at risk."

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