Russian captain Artem Dzyuba has requested to be left out of the squad for upcoming friendlies due to the “tough situation in Ukraine,” according to coach Valery Karpin on Tuesday.
Dzyuba appeared in all three of Russia’s Euro 2020 matches last summer before the side was eliminated in the group stages, but he hasn’t played for his country since.
The 33-year-old Zenit St Petersburg striker has family in Ukraine and has hence opted to reject Russia’s invitation to train.
Dzyuba later claimed his decision was not due to ‘political issues’, stressing that there was a ‘misunderstanding’ between himself and the coach.
‘I didn’t join the Russian national team because of political issues. It’s about family circumstances, but I don’t want to go into details,’ he was quoted as telling the Sport-Express news outlet.
‘It seems to me that there was a misunderstanding, (coach) Valery Georgievich (Karpin) misunderstood me, or his words were misinterpreted.’
“Given the difficult situation in Ukraine, where many members of his family live, Artem apologized and asked, for family reasons, not to be selected,” Karpin said on the site of the Football Union of Russia”
“We agreed to stay in touch and I will keep a close eye on his next few matches with Zenit Saint Petersburg.”
Russia’s conflict with Ukraine has entered its 20th day, following President Vladimir Putin’s decision to attack their neighbours, with the sporting world generally denouncing the country after hundreds of civilian losses.
Russia has been chastised for attacking a maternity hospital and starting fire near a nuclear power plant.
Their invasion has already resulted in the withdrawal of sporting partners and broadcasters, including the Premier League, as well as major corporations around the world such as Coca-Cola and McDonalds, but it has been the Russian football team who have come under scrutiny in recent weeks.
Russia, who hosted the 2018 World Cup finals, was knocked out of the playoffs for this year’s finals in Qatar due to its military activity in Ukraine, though they have challenged FIFA’s decision.
Regardless of the outcome of the appeal, the Russia squad will convene on March 21-27, with opponents appearing to be confined to its friends.
“The exact schedule for the training camp and friendly matches is being worked out and will be publicized shortly,” Karpin stated.
Karpin stated that he has not called up any players from European teams.
Dzyuba hits back at critics
Dzyuba’s position on football has definitely shifted after he recently questioned why athletes had to pay the price for Russia’s actions and lashed out at Ukraine’s Premier League stars (Zinchenko & Yarmolenko) after being criticized for his quiet.
“Until recently, I did not want to speak on the topic of events in Ukraine,” Dzyuba wrote on Instagram. “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.
“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.