Russia’s football federation has demanded the manager of Ukraine’s national team is banned after he expressed a willingness to fight Vladimir Putin’s invading armies.
Petrakov did attempt to join Ukraine’s territorial defence forces when Russia invaded the country back in February but was advised against it because of his age and lack of military experience.
He conducted himself with immense dignity when Ukraine participated in play-off for the Qatar World Cup back in June. They defeated Scotland but saw their hopes of qualification ended by Wales.
Oleksandr Petrakov, 65, told the Guardian back in April that ‘if they come to Kyiv, I will pick up a weapon and defend my city’, adding ‘I think I could take two or three enemies out.’
Now the Football Union of Russia [FUR], banned by UEFA since the invasion has written to UEFA accusing Petrakov of discriminating against their countrymen and failing to remain politically neutral, calling on him to be sanctioned.
The FUR deputy secretary general Denis Rogachev accused Petrakov of breaching codes of conduct by calling for Russia to be banned from international sport.
‘The statements by the head coach of the Ukrainian representative football team, Oleksandr Petrakov, are made against the background of the political conflict between the two countries – Russia and Ukraine – and represents a political message which obviously violates the fundamental principle of political neutrality,’ he wrote.
‘Moreover, the head coaches behavior can be regarded as involvement on [sic] promoting public hatred on a national basis and the use of football to assert political views.’
It goes on to claim Petrakov effectively made a ‘call for violence’ and was ‘discriminatory on a national basis’.
The Russian national team and Russian clubs have been suspended from all competitions by both UEFA and FIFA.
In response to the report, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Football Association told The Guardian: ‘When his country was attacked by invading inhumans, [Petrakov] was ready to defend his land, his women and children.
‘He was not accepted into the army due to his lack of military experience, but his step is a testament to his devotion to the country and patriotism.
‘What kind of discrimination can we talk about in relation to a nation that deliberately commits genocide against another nation?’