Moscow – Russian football captain and fan favourite Andrei Arshavin was ensnared in scandal on Tuesday after being caught on tape saying it was the fans' “problem” that his squad were knocked out of Euro 2012.
Controversy around Russia's most talismanic player broke almost immediately after the national squad failed to make the quarterfinals of Euro 2012 by losing a Saturday match against Greece they only needed to draw to progress.
News reports said Russian lawmakers who were staying at the same five-star Le Meridien Bristol Warsaw hotel as the players did not take the result lightly and made their sentiments known to the team.
“They accused the players of surrendering (Russia's) national interests, of having a lack of will, and of destroying the hopes of millions of fans,” the Sovetsky Sport daily wrote.
Cellphone footage of the altercation posted on the LifeNews.ru website showed several lawmakers grilling a relaxed and seemingly bored Arshavin about the squad's performance against Greece.
“What should we apologise for? What?” he demanded before repeating the word several times.
Lawmaker Anton Belyakov replied that the team “failed the expectations of millions of supporters” and should have said something after the loss.
“Whose expectations were these – yours or ours? If we did not fulfil your expectations, then honestly, these are your problems,” he said while leaning back casually in an hotel lobby armchair.
Belyakov further accused some players of cursing fans who approached them at the locker room after the game – claims that appeared to be confirmed by website footage of a brief but heated exchange with supporters.
A statement on Arshavin's official website emphasised his comments did not apply to all fans but accused some Russians of being too quick to turn on the team when it is down.
“Let us assume that the player answered in a firm manner to those who reproached him,” the Arshavin.eu website wrote.
“So with that, we have to asked the following question: who were those words addressed to? To all fans? No, of course not.”
The website added that team players “were as distraught by the result as the fans and the supporters.”
“It is sad to see that instead of providing support for the players, they are finishing them off,” the statement said. – Sapa-AFP