Former Aberdeen and Maryland basketball star Brionna Jones has been denied a visa for entry into Turkey with her Russian team this week, fallout from a diplomatic dispute between the United States and Turkey.
Jones and teammate Emma Cannon, both of whom play in the WNBA, told the Associated Press in texts Tuesday that they were at the Moscow airport when the team president told them they wouldn’t be allowed to enter Turkey. Cannon and Jones are members of the Russian team Nadezhda in the winter to supplement their income.
The United States on Sunday suspended the issuing of visas for Turkish citizens hoping to visit or study in the United States after Turkey arrested U.S. consulate employee Metin Topuz last week on allegations of espionage.
Turkey immediately halted visa services in the United States in response.
“I think this situation will hurt a lot of teams in the long run,” texted Cannon, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA season. “I’m not happy about missing my first Euroleague game, and not be there for my teammates. But this is something way bigger than basketball, so I will cheer on my team and get ready for the next game.”
Jones plays for the Connecticut Sun.
There are several American WNBA players already in Turkey playing for Turkish clubs. Those players had valid visas and entered the country before the dispute occurred, including the New York Liberty’s Kia Vaughn, Kiah Stokes and Bria Hartley.
The Los Angeles Sparks’ Chelsea Gray and Jantel Lavender are still in the United States and unable to travel to Turkey. The Sparks lost in the WNBA Finals to the Minnesota Lynx last week, so the pair couldn’t leave as early as other players.