'English referees biased against Russians' - former Everton midfielder Bilyaletdinov

Ex-Toffees midfielder claims Premier League officials have discriminated against his countrymen since Fifa's decision to hand the 2018 World Cup to Russia over England
Former Everton midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov has claimed that English referees have discriminated against Russian players since England lost out to Russia in their bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

The former Toffee says that this bias against his countrymen played a part in his decision to leave the Premier League for Spartak Moscow.

"I can say with total certainty that the atmosphere took a turn for the worse after we beat them to the rights to host the World Cup,” he said on Russian television channel Rossiya-2.

“The referees didn’t have much sympathy for us. All other things being equal, you’d lose out.

"I left maybe not just for this reason, but what happened, happened.”

The English media reported claims of corruption and vote-buying by senior Fifa executives during and after the selection process for the World Cup hosts and Bilyaletdinov says this "bitterness" was also felt off the pitch.

He added: “I felt it [bias] in the press, in relationships with people involved in the game. Maybe it was subconscious.”

The Russian international made 59 Premier League appearances for Everton scoring eight goals in two-and-a-half years on Merseyside.