Serbian footballer slams Russian Premier League ‘traitors’
OREANDA-NEWS Serbian former international defender Nemanja Pejcinovic has slammed the host of foreign players who turned their backs on the Russian Premier League in the months following the onset of Russian's military operation in Ukraine.
In March, FIFA opened a special transfer window to allow foreign footballers an easy exit from Russian Premier League clubs, and the organization has since extended its ruling which lets foreign stars unilaterally suspend contracts in Russia.
The move came after it was announced that Russian clubs would be indefinitely barred from European competition – as well as the national team being effectively suspended from qualification for this year's World Cup in Qatar.
Numerous foreign stars have left Russian teams as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, but this situation doesn't sit well with Pejcinovic, who blasted the exiles as behaving “like girls”.
“No one will touch Russia,” he told Sport24.
“I don’t know why the [foreign players] leave the RPL. They act like girls. It's not like men. Why come to Russia, earn your living and say that it's bad there?”
Yaroslav Rakitsky, the Ukrainian international who is a multiple-time RPL winner with Zenit St. Petersburg, was among the most high-profile players to leave after his contract with the club was terminated by mutual consent, as did his compatriot Andrey Voronin, who was employed in a coaching role.
Swedish striker Jordan Larsson – son of Celtic and Barcelona icon Henrik – was another example as he left Spartak Moscow in June. Others such as Rubin Kazan's South Korean player Hwang In-beom managed to secure a short-term loan back to his home country.
Former Chelsea player Victor Moses, though, reportedly had a loan move to then-Premier League side Burnley refused by the English football authorities on the behest of “maintaining football integrity”.
But according to Pejcinovic, such moves were not necessary.
“Western propaganda brainwashes people,” he said. “Foreign players do not understand what is really happening. They are intimidated.
“Now the time has come for foreigners to decide whether they are for the West or for the East. If foreign players go to the West, they will make a big mistake. They will not earn as much in Europe as they can earn in Russia.
“Russia is a self-sufficient country that needs nothing from anyone. Unlike Europe, this country has a favorable situation for life. And Russia does not need traitors,” he added.
Meanwhile, the relationship between Serbian and Russian football looks set to be further strengthened after Dmitry Zelenov, head of Spartak Moscow's press service, told RIA Novosti Sport that his team is considering holding a friendly match with Red Star Belgrade – a team which coincidentally Pejcinovic also represented in his career.
Red Star director Zvezdan Terzic has said his team is "always and at any moment ready to play with Russian teams," adding that "we are brothers."