RFU fines Pogrebnyak for comments on nationality and black players

March 27 – Russia’s former international striker Pavel Pogrebnyak has been fined 250,000 rubles (£2,938/$3880) for saying it was “laughable” to have black players representing the national team.

The 35-year-old, who currently plays for Russian top flight side Ural Yekaterinburg, was also given a suspended ban by the Russian Football Union until the end of the season, which will come into effect if he repeats the offence.

Pogrebnyak, who has played in both the English Premier League and the Bundesliga, made his comments about Brazilian-born, naturalised Russian striker Ariclenes da Silva Ferreira, also known as Ari, who plays for Krasnodar and has two caps for his new national side.

“It’s weird when a black player plays for the Russian national team,” 35-year-old Pogrebnyak, who won 33 caps, said in an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid.

“I am against [the naturalisation of foreign footballers]. I don’t understand the point of it, I don’t understand why Ari got a Russian passport.”

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