The Russian Football Union has called for the Ukraine national team’s manager to be banned after he agreed to fight Vladimir Putin’s invading armies.
Oleksandr Petrakov, 65, told the Guardian in April: “If they come to Kyiv, I will take a gun and defend my city,” adding, “I think I could take out two or three enemies.”
Now the Football Union of Russia [FUR] has written to UEFA accusing Petrakov of discriminating against his compatriots and not being politically neutral and demanding sanctions against him.
As reported by The Guardian, FUR Deputy Secretary General Denis Rogachev has accused Petrakov of violating codes of conduct by calling for Russia to be banned from international sport.
Petrakov tried to join Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces when Russia invaded the country in February, but was discouraged due to his age and lack of military experience.
He behaved with immense dignity when Ukraine took part in the World Cup play-offs in Qatar in June. They defeated Scotland but saw their hopes of qualifying through Wales dashed.
Rogachev’s letter to UEFA made no mention of his country’s invasion of Ukraine or the thousands of civilians and military personnel who have died during the conflict.
‘The statements made by the head coach of the Ukrainian representative football team, Oleksandr Petrakov, come against the background of the political conflict between the two countries – Russia and Ukraine – and constitute a political message that obviously violates the fundamental principle of political neutrality,’ he wrote .
“Furthermore, the behavior of the head coach can be seen as involvement [sic] Promoting public hatred at a national level and using football to impose political views.”
It further alleges that Petrakov effectively made a “call for violence” and was “discriminatory at a national level”.
Both UEFA and FIFA have banned the Russian national team and Russian clubs from all competitions.
In response, a spokesman for the Football Union of Ukraine told The Guardian: “When his country was attacked by invading Inhumans, [Petrakov] was ready to defend his country, his wives and children.
“Due to his lack of military experience, he was not inducted into the army, but his move is a testament to his devotion to the country and patriotism.
“What kind of discrimination can we speak of in relation to a nation that willfully commits genocide against another nation?”
Petrakov managed various youth teams in Ukraine for a decade before being appointed as national team manager in August 2021.
A UEFA spokesman said: “We cannot comment on individual cases. Any complaints received will be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the Disciplinary Code.
“We have no further information to give you at this time.”