Russian-based esports organization Virtus Pro said today that it is being “threatened” with disqualification from the GAMERS GALAXY: Dota 2 Invitational Series in Dubai by the tournament’s organizers because it had not made a public statement regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The org claimed the tournament organizer threatened to lie about the COVID-19 status of the team’s players to ensure it would not participate in the event unless the organization made a public statement. “Either your club issues a public statement regarding the situation in Ukraine, or you get dropped from the tournament,” Virtus Pro said it was told by the tournament organizer.
Virtus Pro, unlike most esports organizations, refrained from posting a statement regarding Russia’s invasion or publicly displaying sympathy for Ukraine until today. In its post, the organization said it “[does] not support any war there is or ever was; Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, or others.”
Virtus Pro also said it never prohibited players or employees from sharing their personal opinions online.
An internal memo created by the CEO of Virtus Pro and acquired yesterday by Dot Esports, however, put forth guidelines for the org’s employees and players about social media posts regarding the topic. This message, which has been translated by multiple Russian-English speakers, urges neutrality among the staffers when posting about the war on social media.
Sergey Glamazda, the CEO of Virtus Pro, said staffers can post support for “people in need of help and care,” according to the memo. Staffers are allowed to use the Ukraine flag emoji and staff can call for an end to the war between the two countries, he said.
But staffers were asked not to get “personal” when discussing the topic on social media, according to the memo. “Avoid offending any of the parties or, moreover, to rejoice at what is happening. There’s enough hatred in this world,” the CEO said.
A Virtus Pro staffer told Dot Esports these guidelines were not intended as “rules” but “a piece of advice” and “clarification from the club on what players can do in these circumstances so they would feel safe in that regard,” they said.
On Feb. 24, Ukraine-based journalist Vitalii Volochai reported that both Gambit and Virtus Pro “forbid” their players from expressing support of Ukraine. They could expect “fines” or “firings” if they broke these rules, he said.
Tournament organizer BLAST announced a ban on Russian-based teams from competing in its CS:GO leagues earlier today. “Due to the conflict in Ukraine, no Russian-based team will be invited to play in our events for the foreseeable future,” the tournament organizer said on Twitter.
Outside of esports, all Russian teams will be banned from competing in the UEFA and FIFA soccer leagues, it was announced on Feb. 28, due to the invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24 following the recognition of the two self-proclaimed states in the Donas region by Russia. European neighbors Belarus have allied with Russia while the majority of the international community have condemned the invasion.
The European Union, U.S., U.K., and others have imposed economic sanctions on Russian oligarchs and President Vladimir Putin. Several banking institutions in Russia, which were not named, have been removed from the SWIFT international payment method, as reported by The Guardian.
The Russian assault on Ukraine continued today with artillery targeting residential areas in Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine. The Freedom Square and opera house were both bombed and at least 10 people are dead, according to BBC News.
Several people have died today due to Russia attacking the capital city of Ukraine. Five people are dead following a Russian missile attack on a TV tower based in Kyiv, as reported by The Guardian.