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Shakhtar Donetsk Soccer Stars Refuse To Return To Eastern Ukraine Amid Ongoing Conflict

The six players will be the "first to suffer" if they break their contracts, says owner.

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Six foreign players for Shakhtar Donetsk have refused to return to the eastern Ukrainian soccer team's conflict-hit home city, sparking a furious reaction from owner Rinat Akhmetov.

AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

Brazilian stars Douglas Costa (pictured), Dentinho, Fred, Alex Teixiera and Ismaily, as well as Argentine forward Facundo Ferreyra, remained in France after the team played a friendly match against Olympique Lyon on Saturday.

Akhmetov released an official statement via the club's website, confirming the news and issuing a stark warning to the players, saying they'll be the "first to suffer."

Rinat #Akhmetov: If players don’t come, they’ll be first to suffer! Read more on our website: http://t.co/8AnP9136xx

FC SHAKHTAR ENGLISH@shakhtar_eng

Rinat #Akhmetov: If players don’t come, they’ll be first to suffer!
Read more on our website: http://t.co/8AnP9136xx

9:39 PM - 20 Jul 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Akhmetov warned the players that their actions could activate compensation clauses that would see them owe Shakhtar tens of millions of euros.

Alexander Khudoteply/AFP/File

Akhmetov said: "It is true, six have not come. I don't rule out that these players will return to the team quickly, and some of them tomorrow. Players have contracts that they have to abide by.

"If they do not come, I think, they will be the first to suffer. Each of them has a minimum release clause, which is tens of millions of euros. If someone wants to reduce this amount by a million, then such a decision is our right. There won’t be clearance sale!"

Hopefully, the mind and heart will prevail over misunderstanding, and the players will not follow temptation and fear. Especially since there is nothing to fear. We are ready to provide security. We will not take risks and in any case we won't bring players to dangerous places.We want to play in Donetsk very much, but, unfortunately, at the moment we cannot do it. We will play where we will be allowed to: we would like to do it in Kharkiv. The decision regarding the championship is taken by the Ukrainian Football Federation. Through our game, we will call for peace and try to bring joy to our fans.

Ukraine's military is attempting to retake Donetsk after it fell into the hands of pro-Russian rebels.

ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY/AFP / Getty Images

The Ukrainian Football Federation has yet to rule where Shakhtar will play its home games while the conflict rages.

Francis Whittaker is a homepage editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Francis Whittaker at francis.whittaker@buzzfeed.com.

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