Brazil: Evacuation plan for football players in Ukraine

Bernard on the pitch in Donetsk kit Bernard (right) is a member of the Brazilian national squad

Brazilian footballers with the Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk have been guaranteed a safe escape route out of the country if the political situation deteriorates, it's been reported.

The club's owner, billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, is said to have raised the possibility of offering the players his private plane, in a meeting last week, the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper reports. One evacuation scenario could see the footballers flown to London, friends and agents of the players told the paper, but there would be no promise of trading evacuated players to other teams.

Akhmetov is believed to have already told the players plane tickets would be available to them at Donetsk airport. Reports at the time suggested the Brazilian embassy was involved with those plans.

Brazilian media had reported earlier that some players were worried about developments in majority Russian-speaking Dontesk, the home region of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and a hotbed of pro-Russian sentiment in Ukraine. In recent days, the city has seen turbulent pro-Russian rallies, and protesters captured local government offices demanding closer ties with Russia.

There are 12 Brazilians in the Shakhtar Donetsk squad, including one player, Bernard, who is on Brazil's national team.

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