Russian football star Artem Dzyuba has turned down a call up to his national team squad, saying he was declining ‘due to the difficult situation in Ukraine’.
Dzyuba – Russia’s captain and most high profile player – made headlines by verbally attacking Ukraine stars Vitaliy Mykolenko and Andriy Yarmolenko for hitting out at him because he refused to condemn his country’s invasion.
Russia have been kicked out of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar but had previously been set to play Poland in the play-off to reach the tournament. They were initially forced to play without a flag or anthem and under the name Football Union of Russia, before FIFA expelled them.
With no fixtures to play, Russia boss Valeri Karpin has decided to bring his players together regardless for training – with an intra-squad friendly against their U21 side planned while their FA lodges an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
But Karpin revealed that Dzyuba had rejected the chance to link up with the squad, citing the fact he had ‘many relatives’ in Ukraine and the sensitive political situation.
‘Due to the difficult situation in Ukraine, where he has many relatives, he apologised and asked not to call him up for this training camp,’ said Karpin.
Rusisa captain Artem Dzyuba has rejected a call-up to Russia’s squad due to the ‘difficult situation’ in Ukraine
The Russian team – who have been booted out of qualifying for this year’s World Cup in Qatar – are set to meet for training and a game against their U21 side
Dzyuba had previously hit out at Manchester City’s Oleksdandr Zinchenko (left) and Everton’s Vitaliy Mykolenko (right) for their criticism of Russia
Russia’s conflict with Ukraine has entered its 20th day after president Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade their neighbours, with the sporting world widely condemning the country following hundreds of civilian casualties.
Russia has been coming under criticism for bombing a maternity hospital and opening fire near a nuclear power station.
Their invasion has already seen sporting partners and broadcasters, including the Premier League, turn their backs on them – as well as huge corporations around the world such as Coca Cola and McDonalds, but it has been Russian footballers who have come under the microscope in recent weeks.
Dzyuba – who plays for Russian outfit Zenit St Petersburg – had been slammed by Everton’s Mykolenko for being a ‘silent b****’ having failed to come out and criticise his country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Mykolenko (L) called Dyzuba ‘a silent b****’ for failing to speak out about Russia’s behaviour, while West Ham’s Ukrainian star Andriy Yarmolenko (R) told him to ‘show some balls’
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has entered its 20th day – with the sporting world widely condemning Russia and many partners and broadcasters turning their backs on them
‘Whilst you remain silent b**** along with your s***head football team-mates, peaceful civilians are being killed in Ukraine,’ Mykolenko – who joined Everton in January from Dynamo Kyiv – posted earlier this month.
‘You will be locked in your dungeon for the rest of your life and most importantly the lives of your kids. And I’m glad.’
Man City star Oleksandr Zinchenko had also been highly critical of Russia – posting a picture of Vladimir Putin last month and writing: ‘I hope you die the most painful suffering death, creature,’ as Russia launched a full-scale invasion on his homeland.
West Ham’s Andriy Yarmolenko was particularly critical of Dzyuba and even brought up his notorious sex tape as he called for him to come down harder on Russia – saying: ‘I know some of you like to show your balls on camera but now the time’s come to show your balls in real life.’
Dzyuba – who has family in Ukraine – has insisted he is proud to be Russian but opposes conflict
And the fierce criticism provoked a stern response from Dyzuba, who finally broke his silence by hitting out at Ukrainian stars who ‘sit on their a** in mansions in England’ and saying ‘nasty things’.
He insisted he was ‘against any war’ but also stressed he was proud to be Russian and questioned why ‘anger, dirt and bile has now been poured on all Russian people’.
‘Until recently, I did not want to speak on the topic of events in Ukraine.
‘I didn’t want to, not because I’m afraid, but because I’m not an expert in politics, I never got into it and didn’t intend to (unlike a large number of political scientists and virologists who have recently appeared on the Internet).
‘But like everyone else, I have my own opinion. Since I am being drawn to this topic from all sides, I will express it.
Dzyuba – who plays for Zenit St Petersburg – is Russia’s most high profile player
‘I am against any war. War is a frightful thing. But I am also against human aggression and hatred, which is gaining some sort of devastating scale every day.
‘I am not afraid that I am Russian. I’m proud to be Russian. And I don’t understand why athletes have to suffer now. I am against double standards.
‘Why is it that one can do everything, and they hang all dogs on us.
‘Why has everyone shouted about sports staying outside of politics but, at the first opportunity, when it comes to Russia, this principle is completely forgotten?
‘I repeat, war is scary. In stressful situations, people show their true essence, sometimes negative. How much anger, dirt and bile has now been poured on all Russian people, regardless of their position and profession.
Firefighters try to extinguish a fire after a residential building hit by a Russian attack in Kyiv, Ukraine
‘Those thousands of people why write insults and threats, get in line!
‘It is doubly strange to hear all this from people to whom Russia has given very, very much in their lives. All this only creates more negativity.
‘The war will end but human relations will remain and it will be impossible to rewind back. Keep this in mind.’
He added: ‘And to some colleagues who sit on their a** in mansions in England and say nasty things: It cannot offend us, we understand everything! Peace and goodness to everybody!’
Dzyuba has 55 caps for the Russian national team, scoring 30 times.
He made a name for himself by netting three times at the 2018 World Cup – hosted by Russia – helping the team reach the quarter-finals.
At club level, he has played 490 times – spending his entire career in Russia. He started out at Spartak Moscow, featuring 166 times, being loaned out to Tom Tomsk and FC Rostov. He then joined Zenit in 2015 and has played 236 times so far.