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Although the number of incidents of abuse among professional footballers in Russia is growing rapidly, the country’s football federation (RFU) keeps on ignoring players' complaints. The footballers’ association (PSFT) wonders if (and when) the RFU will finally take any action.

 

The PSFT made the following summary of incidents and the RFU’s reaction to these incidents.

 

On 18 June, Danko Lazovi?, a Serbian international from Russian champions Zenit St. Petersburg, was given an electric shock by an officer from a Special Purpose Police Unit while trying to toss his shirt to Zenit fans. The incident can be seen on youtube. Doctors said Lazovic suffered an electric shock. He has first degree burns and requires daily treatments.

 

Police authorities decided against launching an investigation due to ‘the absence of a crime’: according to them, Lazovic was not hit with the electric shock gun.

 

The head of the Russian FA, Sergei Fursenko, made his position clear. ‘We believe that everyone should do their job. Footballers should play football and not provoke anybody.’ The executive director of the Russian Premier League, Sergey Cheban, blamed the player: ‘If you jump over the turnstile in the underground, how should you be judged?’

 

On 7 March, Nikola Nikezic was physically abused and threatened by employees of his former club, FC Kuban, so he might terminate his contract without receiving compensation. RFU president Fursenko was quick to jump to the club's defence in an interview with SovSports. ‘The case is rather suspicious. Knowing the club management, I doubt that they could have used such methods.’

 

The RFU Ethics Committee imposed sanctions on FC Kuban and its management. Director Suren Mkrtchyan received a 25,000 euro fine; the club received a 50,000 euro fine. Sporting director Sergei Doronchenko was banned from all football business until the end of the 2011/12 season and assistant coach Nikolay Hlystunov was banned until the end of 2011.

 

However the Russian Football Federation Appeals Committee withdrew the Ethics Committee's decision. All sanctions were dropped, besides the 50,000 euro fine imposed on FC Kuban.

 

In March, Roberto Carlos, captain of FC Anzhi Makhakchala, was welcomed to Zenit St Petersburg’s stadium by a spectator who offered him a half peeled banana. Nobody was punished for this action. Three months later during the game between FC Anzhi and FC Kriliya Sovetov, Roberto Carlos was insulted again, this time by another fan who threw a banana at the Brazilian defender on the pitch. Once again, no sanctions were given by football authorities.

 

The Russian Professional Footballers Union is wondering what has to happen to the players in Russia for the football authorities to start respecting footballers’ fundamental rights’, says Nikolai Grammatikov, secretary general of the PSFT. ‘Instead of tackling these problems, the president of the Russian FA (and member of UEFA’s Executive committee) and his entourage constantly blame the Union ‘for damaging the image of Russian football’.’

 

Grammatikov: ‘Meanwhile, players are not protected, players are underrepresented in the main RFU committees, and the governing body is happy to turn a blind eye.’