baltics / homophobia / lithuania / sports

Lithuanian basketball federation “will react” to intolerance

Ksystof-Lavrinovic-drawing-a-swastika-DELFI-Photo-by-P.-GarkauskasThe Lithuanian news portal 15min.lt reports that the Lithuanian Basketball Federation (LKF) will likely condemn recent racial slurs and “other types of behavior” by fans and supporters.

Since 2012,  fans and Lithuanian basketball team members and officials have repeatedly been caught on film participating in questionable expressions of “harmless joking” at the expense of minority groups.

A video on Youtube released last year showed members of the Lithuanian national basketball team, one trainer and LKF President (and legendary Lithuanian basketball star) Arvydas Sabonis joining in a pre-game rendition of a song entitled “Whoever’s Not Jumping Is a Faggot.”

Earlier this month, Lithuanian national basketball team member Ksystof Lavrinovic caused a stir in the national press after he was filmed drawing a swastika on his luggage while waiting on a flight from Kaunas to Slovenia for the Eurobasket 2013 championship.

More recently, a video was released on Youtube showing Lithuanian parliamentarian Petras Gražulis leading a group of basketball fans in a pre-game warm-up of the  “Whoever’s Not Jumping Is a Faggot” song immediately prior to the final gold medal game of Eurobasket 2013.

The various incidents have led to public complaints from both the Lithuanian Gay League (LGL) and representatives of Lithuania’s Jewish community.

LKF spokesman Dalius Matvejevas today said that the LKF “will release a statement – not specifically because of the LGL’s complaint, but generally about racist and other types of behavior.”

Matvejevas said he was in contact with FIBA, the international basketball federation, about the incidents, who have promised not to take any action against their LIthuanian colleagues because the slurs were made “outside of sport.”

The LKL spokesman added: “We aren’t responsible for the behavior of people who have nothing to do with basketball and who are only watching the game.  But it is unpleasant that such incidents occur.”

 

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