Basketball star Britney Greiner – who appeared in court in Moscow this week – has only been playing in Russia because of the low wages paid to female athletes in the US, which her friends and colleagues say makes it difficult to make a living.
Greiner, 31, who appeared in handcuffs in a court in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, was charged with drug smuggling after she was arrested at an airport for allegedly carrying cannabis oil in her luggage. She faces up to ten years in prison if convicted.
Her supporters say she is the victim of a wrongful arrest and have called on President Joe Biden and others to press for her release. She was arrested one week before Russia invaded Ukraine.
His wife, Cheryl Greiner, told CNN she was struggling to maintain her composure, while urging US authorities to do more.
“It’s really tough. This is not a situation where the letter matches the work,” she said.
“I have to unfortunately pay people to make sure the things they tell me also match their actions, and so it was hard to balance because I can’t give up on that. It’s been over 130 days and BG hasn’t come back yet.”
While some have suggested that Graner’s detention is being used as leverage by Russia, as it confronts the United States and other Western countries in what many see as a proxy war in Ukraine, its friends and colleagues in America say it is largely forced to play it. Russia because the wages paid to stars like her are higher than those paid back home.
“If the pay deals were different, and if investors were actively looking for promoters, it wouldn’t,” said Terry Jackson, executive director of the Women’s National Basketball Association. independent.
“We have to rethink and reimagine women’s basketball.”
Jackson said Greiner made the decision to go to Russia in consultation with his wife. But she said they were hoping this would be the last season.
“When the season ends in the United States, there is only a week left for our players to travel to Poland, Israel or Australia.”
She says the federation is proud of the players as global ambassadors for the sport. However, they fear the wear and tear on their bodies.
“Like all professional athletes, there is a limited window,” she added.
Nneka Ogwumike, who plays for the Los Angeles Sparks of the Women’s National Basketball Association, Tell good morning america Earlier this year: “The reality is that it’s there because of a gender issue – wage inequality.”
“We go there to boost our income, and quite frankly, we go there to keep our game,” added Ogwumike, who is also the president of the WNBA.
While the gender pay gap in the United States is not a new phenomenon, it does appear to be particularly acute in the world of professional basketball.
Data from the site basketball reference It indicates that the average income of a male player in the National Basketball Association (NBA) is $5.3 million annually, based on information from 2021-202.
Stars like Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, who earn $45.7 million and $42 million annually, respectively, are in a higher league when it comes to earnings.
However, in the WNBA, the average salary is a mere $130,000 per year. While the season is shorter and female players only have half as many matches as their male counterparts, the disparity means that men earn 44 times as many games as their male counterparts.
Britney Grenier was driven from the Russian courtroom on the first day of the trial
This is why athletes like Griner, who plays at Phoenix Mercury, also play for Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg or for other teams in places like Turkey, China and beyond. Notably, Russia’s Griner team, Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg, is owned by an oligarch with links to Vladimir Putin, who is said to be cashing out millions at the club.
While Griner was making as much as $227,000 as one of the highest-grossing players in the US, in Russia she was making $1 million annually.
The state news agency TASS quoted Greener as saying in court that she understood the charges against her. When the judge asked her if she wanted to file a petition, Greiner replied, “At this moment, no, your honor. Later.” According to Medizonaan independent news site known for its extensive coverage of high-profile court cases.
Less than one percent of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, and acquittals can be quashed.
The prosecution questioned two witnesses: an airport customs official who spoke in a public session, and an anonymous witness in a closed session, according to the state news agency RIA Novosti. Then the trial was postponed.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press