Russia’s captain Andrei Arshavin faced calls to be dropped from the team after he dismissed disappointment over its early Euro 2012 exit as a problem for the fans rather than the players.
The indiscreet exchange in an upscale hotel lobby that followed Russia’s traumatic loss on Saturday to Greece may now cost the supporters’ darling not only his captaincy armband but also the respect of legions of fans.
“I believe that a player like that does not deserve to be on the team,” the Football Union of Russia honorary president Vyacheslav Koloskov told the Championat.com website.
Controversy around Russia’s most talismanic player broke almost immediately after its failure to make it out of a group that besides Greece also included co-hosts Poland and the Czech Republic. Footage showed several lawmakers grilling a relaxed and seemingly bored Arshavin about the squad’s performance against Greece.
“What should we apologise for? What?” he demanded before repeating the word several times.
A statement on Arshavin’s official website emphasised his comments did not apply to all fans but accused some Russians of being too quick to turn on the team when it is down.
“Let us assume that the player answered in a firm manner to those who reproached him,” the Arshavin.eu website wrote. “So with that, we have to ask the following question: who were those words addressed to? To all fans? No, of course not.”
But the statement never contested the validity of the tape or issued an apology. The entire incident will leave a bad impression with fans who may best remember Arshavin for joining the squad during the Euro 2008 tournament and immediately transforming their play while taking them to the semi-finals.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2012.
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