The world of soccer has been able to eradicate racism, but the latest issue has re-emerged when the recognition of former English club star, Fulham, Pavel Pogrebnyak managed to invite many reactions including from Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
On the occasion, Pavel claimed to be strongly opposed if there were naturalized black players included in the Russian National Team squad. The black player referred to here is Ariclenes da Silva Ferreira or more familiarly called Ari.
If referring to his notes, Ari is the first black player who enters the squad of the Russian National Team. Born in Brazil, Ari has inaugurated his citizenship in Russia in 2018, and currently plays for FC Krasnodar.
Ari’s first appearance at the international level with the Russian National Team was in November 2018. But who would have thought, if Ari’s career trail was challenged by Pavel, who was not willing if Ari was invited to join the Russian National Team.
“I do not understand the meaning of all this. I did not understand why Ari accepted a Russian passport. It’s funny when a black player represents the Russian National Team. Mario Fernandes is a top player. But we also have Igor Smolnikov in his position. We can succeed without strangers too, “said Pogrebnyak.
Pavel’s expression immediately caught a strong reaction from the government of Vladimir Putin as the current President of Russia. Represented by Mikhail Fedotov, a human rights adviser to President Putin, said that he saw a racism flow from the Pogrebnyak’s statement.
Without a long time, the adviser immediately launched a counterattack against the Yekaterinburg Ural player by saying that strengthening the National Team was the right of all Russian citizens, without exception.
“I believe that every soccer player playing well and having Russian citizenship has the right to represent the Russian National Team. The color of the skin, eyes, hair, and others are meaningless. This must be clear to anyone, “said Fedotov.
Not enough with Putin’s advisors, a strong reaction also came from the Russian Football Federation which claimed to be ready to investigate the intent and purpose of Pavel to issue that statement. If this process goes on, it is not impossible that Pavel will be fined, and it can be even worse that the player will get a ban on playing depending on the decision.
Russia has not just faced the problem of racism several times. One of them is when the former player of Madura United, Peter Odemwingie ever experienced the similar situation. Precisely in 2022, fans of the Russian Premier League club, Lokomotiv Moscow display banners with bananas on it saying ‘Thank you, West Brom’.
The meaning of the banner was allegedly meant that fans were embarrassed by the existence of Odemwingie, who could not contribute well. And the bad experience of the player then issued a decision to join West Brom.