Burundian Club Dynamo Withdraw From Basketball Africa League Over Rwanda Protest

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Burundian club Dynamo have withdrawn from the Basketball Africa League (BAL) after refusing to wear a jersey with the ‘Visit Rwanda’ logo on it.

The side covered the message in their opening game in the Kalahari Conference in Pretoria, but forfeited their next two matches.

The protest comes amid political tensions between the two countries.

Burundi closed its borders with Rwanda in January after accusing its neighbour of funding rebel attacks.

Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye claimed Rwanda’s government, led by Paul Kagame, was backing the Red Tabara rebel group after an attack by the militia killed 20 people in December.

President Kagame denies the charge, but Burundi’s government has branded him a “bad neighbour”.

BAL president Amadou Gallo Fall said the club had refused to comply with the league’s rules governing jersey and uniform requirements.

Dynamo taped over the ‘Visit Rwanda’ logo when they beat Cape Town Tigers 86-73 on Saturday, and then forfeited matches against FUS Rabat on Sunday and Petro de Luanda on Tuesday.

Dynamo guard Bryton Hobbs claimed on social media that the instruction to cover the logo had come from Burundi’s government.

“The government told our [club] president [Joe Dassin] that we can’t play, so they told the BAL that we have to forfeit our game because we blocked out the ‘Visit Rwanda’ thing,” the American said in an Instagram Live post on Sunday.

“People had to sign contracts with the sponsors in the contracts and stuff like that, so they knew what they were getting themselves into.”

Burundi’s basketball federation has been contacted for comment.

Bujumbura-based Dynamo were competing in the BAL for the first time and were scheduled to play a total of six games in the Kalahari Conference.

Gallo Fall said the situation leading to their withdrawal was “very unfortunate”.

“Dynamo Basketball Club has further refused to comply with the BAL’s rules and requirements,” he added in a statement.

“Under Fiba [International Basketball Federation] rules, two forfeitures in the same tournament trigger the club’s automatic withdrawal. This is a very unfortunate situation for the players and fans, and we share the frustrations of everyone involved.”

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