Russian striker Pogrebnyak’s comments on black players ‘smell of racism’


The head of the presidential Human Rights Council has blasted comments of former Fulham and Reading striker Pavel Pogrebnyak for comments saying it is “laughable” to have black players in the Russian national side.

Mikhail Fedotov said the views of the forward “smelt of racism” before giving support to any player with Russian citizenship.

“The colour of their skin, eyes, hair and everything else has no significance. This should be obvious to anyone.”

This comes after Pogrebnyak told tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda he opposed the recent trend that has seen several non-Russian players receiving passports from the country and, potentially, representing the national team.

He singled out CSKA Moscow defender Mario Fernandes, who is Brazilian-born, and Krasnodar forward Ariclenes da Silva Ferreira, more commonly known as Ari.

“I don’t see the point of this. I do not understand at all why Ari received a Russian passport. It is laughable when a black player represents the Russian national side.

“Mario Fernandes is a top player. But we also have Igor Smolnikov in his position. We could make do with foreigners as well.”

The former Fulham front man did attempt to qualify his comments. He spoke with Sport24 saying he respects “all players without exception” and went on to say:

“I do not have anything against black players. In the interview I voiced my strictly personal opinion that in the Russian national side I would like to see footballers who were born and raised in our country. That is all. I did not mean to insult anyone.”

The 35-year-old did find some support, though, through his club president Grigory Ivanov who said the team will stand by their striker and claimed most Russian players would share his views.

Pogrebnyak is facing a ten game ban according to Russian website The deputy anti-discrimination officer for the Russian Football Union has said it will be looking into possible punishment for the striker, now playing his trade for Russian Premier League side Ural Yekaterinburg.


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