Rus­sian stars face jail af­ter ‘racist’ as­sault

Shanghai Daily - - SPORTS - SOC­CER (AFP)

DIS­GRACED Rus­sian foot­ball play­ers Pavel Ma­maev and Alexan­der Koko­rin could face up to five years in prison for as­sault­ing a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial at a Moscow cafe, in a case that sparked out­rage in Rus­sia yes­ter­day.

The as­sault by the play­ers — both for­mer Rus­sian in­ter­na­tion­als who have courted con­tro­versy in the past — has prompted the in­te­rior min­istry to open a crim­i­nal probe while the Krem­lin de­scribed the in­ci­dent as “un­pleas­ant.”

On Mon­day Krasnodar mid­fielder Ma­maev and Zenit Saint Peters­burg for­ward Koko­rin at­tacked two Rus­sian trade min­istry of­fi­cials in an up­scale Moscow cafe.

Video footage showed one of the of­fi­cials, De­nis Pak, an eth­nic Korean, be­ing hit with a chair while eat­ing a meal.

“They started to mock (Pak’s) eth­nic­ity” and as­saulted him when he made a crit­i­cal com­ment, Pak’s lawyer Gen­nadiy Udun­yan later re­vealed, “He has a con­cus­sion.”

Be­fore the cafe as­sault the foot­ballers at­tacked the driver of a tele­vi­sion host and dam­aged her Mercedes in a sep­a­rate in­ci­dent on Mon­day.

The driver was hos­pi­tal­ized with in­juries and a crim­i­nal probe was opened.

Pub­lic out­rage quickly snow­balled into a pub­lic sham­ing cam­paign on na­tional tele­vi­sion, which even pub­lished a list of Rus­sian foot­ballers who were con­victed in the past.

The Rus­sian Premier League con­demned Ma­maev and Koko­rin, say­ing they should face “se­vere” pun­ish­ment.

“The Rus­sian Premier League ex­presses its out­rage and strongly con­demns their (play­ers’) rowdy be­hav­ior,” it said in a state­ment.

“This act not only casts a shadow over the glo­ri­ous names of FC Zenit and FC Krasnodar but all of Rus­sian foot­ball.

“We be­lieve that those re­spon­si­ble should be pun­ished in the most se­vere way. There is no place for hooli­gans in foot­ball!”

‘Dis­gust­ing be­hav­ior’

Rus­sian Premier League club Krasnodar pledged to do ev­ery­thing to ter­mi­nate Ma­maev’s con­tract, while Zenit said Koko­rin’s role in the in­ci­dent was “dis­gust­ing.”

“We are cur­rently look­ing into how to ter­mi­nate a con­tract with the player,” FC Krasnodar said.

The club said Ma­maev, 30, would have to pay “the largest pos­si­ble fine” and would be barred from train­ing with the first team for the time be­ing.

“What we saw in the video is out­ra­geous,” it added.

FC Zenit said Koko­rin, 27, would be dis­ci­plined pend­ing the out­come of the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“Zenit man­age­ment and fans feel noth­ing but dis­ap­point­ment that one of the coun­try’s most tal­ented foot­ballers be­haved in a dis­gust­ing man­ner,” the club said.

‘This is racism’

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Krem­lin — “just like the whole coun­try” — was aware of the in­ci­dent and de­scribed the video as “rather un­pleas­ant.”

Af­ter the as­sault Pak and the other of­fi­cial, Sergei Gaisin, sought med­i­cal as­sis­tance be­fore re­port­ing the in­ci­dent to the po­lice.

It is not the first time the play­ers’ be­hav­ior has raised eye­brows. Rus­sia’s Foot­ball Union sus­pended the pair in July 2016 af­ter a video emerged from a Monte Carlo night­club where Ma­maev and Koko­rin al­legedly spent US$296,000 on a cham­pagne-fu­elled party fol­low­ing Euro 2016, where Rus­sia flopped.

Koko­rin, who sat out this year’s World Cup with a knee in­jury, later apol­o­gized for his be­hav­ior and was wel­comed back into the na­tional team.

Ma­maev last played for the na­tional side at Euro 2016, when they fin­ished bot­tom of their group.

Alexan­der Koko­rin cel­e­brates (cen­ter) af­ter scor­ing for Rus­sia against Al­ge­ria at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Both Koko­rin and Pavel Ma­maev face prison for as­sault. — Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.