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Former Premier League striker Pogrebnyak fined by Russian Football Union for race remarks

6:50 PM WAT 26/03/2019
pogrebnyak-cropped
The former Fulham forward has been fined for his comments towards Krasnodar striker Ari

Pavel Pogrebnyak has been fined 250,000 rubles (£2,938/$3880) by the Russian Football Union (RFU) after suggesting black players should not represent Russia

Pogrebnyak, who played for both Fulham and Reading during a three-year stay in England, gave an interview earlier this month to a local publication in which he questioned why Brazil-born striker Ari had been given a Russian passport. 

Ari – a former Brazil Under-20 international – has spent much of his senior career in Russian football, having joined Spartak Moscow in 2010 from Eredivisie side AZ, while he has also represented Lokomotiv Moscow and Krasnodar. 

It was his form late last year for Krasnodar that earned him his first two caps for Russia, while he has scored a total of 41 goals in 124 games for the club since joining back in 2013.

However, Pogrebnyak – who has played 33 times for his country – made controversial statements about Ari's call-up. 

The Ural forward felt it was "weird" that a black player represented the 2018 World Cup hosts while also expressing a general annoyance at the use of naturalised foreigners. 

"I don't see the point of this," Pogrebnyak said to a local tabloid. "I do not understand at all why Ari received a Russian passport.

"It is laughable when a black player represents the Russian national side. Mario Fernandes is a top player, but we also have Igor Smolnikov in his position. We could make do without foreigners as well."

After examining Pogrebnyak's comments, the RFU fined him and also handed out a conditional disqualification until the end of the season, which will come into effect if he repeats the offence. 

This would come as a blow for club side Ural Yekaterinburg, having only signed for them back in late August 2018 from Tosno where he scored four goals in eight appearances.

Pogrebnyak's comments were also condemned by his home nation with Mikhail Fedotov, Head of Russia's presidential Humans Rights council, telling Moscow 360: "I believe that any football player who plays well and has Russian citizenship has a right to represent the Russian national side.

"The colour of their skin, eyes, hair and everything else has no significance. This should be obvious to anyone."