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‘This is appalling.’ FIFPro is urging the Russian football authorities and the national government to guarantee the safety of professional footballers. Last Friday, a player of FK Krasnodar was beaten during a match by a group of men dressed in police uniforms while club officials looked on.


On Friday evening, the second team of FK Krasnodar played an away game against Terek Grozny. The visitors were obviously better and ahead 3-0 went, which the home team found difficult to stomach. Terek Grozny players started playing rougher and more aggressively, and attacked the visitors from Krasnodar with dirty violations.


Spartak Gogniev, the captain of Krasnodar, who scored two goals, appealed to the referee and asked him to intervene and keep the Terek Grozny players in line. That had the reverse effect: the referee gave Gogniev a yellow card twice for protesting.


Gogniev then walked to the players’ tunnel, on his way to the dressing-room. In the tunnel he was intercepted by a group of men dressed in police uniforms. They grabbed him and dragged him off with them. They then repeatedly beat him with their truncheons. And all this took place under the watching eye of two deputy chairmen of the Terek Grozny football club who are also members of the Chechen government - the deputy prime minister and the minister of Sport.


A medical examination showed that Gogniev has several broken ribs, a concussion, a broken nose, and several serious injuries as a result of the incident.


‘This is appalling’, said Dejan Stefanovic, FIFPro board member and spokesman of FIFPro’s Task Force Eastern Europe which is carrying out an investigation into abuses in East European football. ‘I have heard many stories about violence against footballers, but I’ve never heard of policemen beating up a player, not even in Eastern Europe. It is disgraceful.'


‘The Russian football association must intervene rigorously. First, the Russian football association must guarantee all footballers their safety while they are exercising their profession. Every employee, and that includes professional footballers, is entitled to a safe working environment. The UEFA has clearly stated this in its policy concerning good governance.'


‘Second, the Russian football association must now really come into action for once. We saw what happened with Nikola Nikezic, who was beaten up earlier this year by representatives of FC Kuban. The association gave FC Kuban a small monetary fine, nothing more. Unbelievable.'


‘A new monetary fine is unacceptable. A player was seriously assaulted while representatives of the home club, Terek Grozny, looked on. That is impermissible. People must be punished for this. And the club must be severely punished as well.'


‘The sanction must in any case be severe enough that no other club and no other representative of a club ever entertains the idea of committing this sort of assault in the future.'


‘Should the Russian football association prove incapable of doing this, then it is time to involve the national government. In most countries, people who commit assault are liable for a prison sentence.'


‘In six years time, the world cup will be held in Russia. But playing football in a country in which professional players run these sort of risks is completely unacceptable for FIFPro. Surely the Russian football association must also realise this.’