MOSCOW – Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Douglas Costa says he and his fellow players who refused to return to the Ukrainian champion did so because the conflict in the country puts their lives at risk.
Costa and five other South American players refused to travel with the rest of the team to Ukraine for Tuesday's first match of the season.
The players "all run a deadly risk if we are in the region," Costa said on his Instagram page. He said he wanted to remain a Shakhtar player, but train in Switzerland during the conflict.
The city of Donetsk is held by pro-Russian rebels who are battling advancing Ukrainian forces, and around 60 kilometers (38 miles) from the site where Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 crashed Thursday with almost 300 people on board.