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20 Sep, 2021 12:35

‘There is always politics’: Ukraine volleyball star questions ‘$375k bonus offered to players to beat Russia’ at European finals

‘There is always politics’: Ukraine volleyball star questions ‘$375k bonus offered to players to beat Russia’ at European finals

Russian players would have been motivated by the reported huge bonus offered to Ukraine ahead of a volleyball showdown at the European Championships earlier this month, a star has admitted.

Ukraine players were said to have been offered a whopping windfall of 10 million hryvnia – around $375,000 – to win their game against Russia on September 11, which did not materialize after they were knocked out at the round of 16 stage with a 3-1 defeat in Gdansk.

One of the country's top players, middle blocker Dmytro Teryomenko, has suggested that there was no need for the incentive because the team's "motivation went off the scale" ahead of the crunch knockout stage clash.

"Everyone understood what it was like to play against Russia," explained the nine-time Ukrainian Championship winner with former team Lokomotyv Kharkiv, speaking to KP.

"I think that [the bonus offer] was not done quite correctly in relation to the team. We have a lot of young players. It seems to me that it stimulated Russia more.

"Such amounts cannot be announced. I would be terribly motivated if someone bragged about a prize for a future victory over me.

"You can't brag about money until you've won. Loud slogans do not lead to anything good."

The potential reward was four times as much as Ukraine players including Teryomenko were offered ahead of their quarterfinal against Serbia when the tournament was held in Antwerp in 2019, according to the report – a match which also ended in defeat.

Teryomenko has spoken after a series of diplomatic controversies involving Russian and Ukrainian athletes competing with each other, including Ukrainian high jump medalist Yaroslava Mahuchikh being summoned by her country's ministry of defense after embracing Russian gold medalist Maria Lasitskene at the Olympic Games.

"There is always politics," he accepted. "Everywhere. A Russian channel wanted to interview me but I refused.

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"It seems to me that whatever you say now, on Russian television, the words will be [presented] in a different [way]."

The player for French side Tours VB was asked about two Ukraine players who represent Russian club sides.

"Everyone needs to feed their families," he acknowledged. "Unfortunately, not all teams are well-off in Ukraine. [They do] not [offer] the salaries to support a family.

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"Returning to the topic of bonuses, we were not promised any bonuses before Euro 2021. How does the federation [judge whether] we were successful or not?

"We have completed the minimum task. Whether something will be paid, I do not know. We haven't received anything yet."

Russia lost 3-0 to eventual third-placed side Poland in their quarterfinal. Italy won the tournament, beating Slovenia 3-2 in the final.

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