Russian football captain responds to fierce criticism over his silence

Artem Dzyuba is ‘proud to be Russian’ as country continues invasion of Ukraine

The Russia captain, Artem Dzyuba, has responded to fierce criticism from two Ukrainian players – Vitalii Mykolenko and Andriy Yarmolenko – over Russian footballers’ silence on the invasion of Ukraine.

In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Everton full-back Mykolenko accused Russia's international players of failing to show support for the people of Ukraine.

“While you remain silent along with your shithead football teammates, peaceful civilians are being killed in Ukraine,” the 22-year-old wrote. “You will be locked in your dungeon for the rest of your life and most importantly the lives of your kids. And I’m glad.”

The West Ham forward Yarmolenko also raised the issue in an Instagram video posted on Tuesday night. “I have a question for Russian players,” he said. “Guys, why are you sitting like shitheads and not saying anything? In my country they’re killing people, killing wives, killing our children. But you’re saying nothing, you’ve given no comments.”

In a lengthy and defiant statement posted on social media on Wednesday, Dyzuba wrote “war is scary,” but that he was “not afraid to be Russian . . . I’m proud to be Russian” and made a reference to players “sitting in mansions in England.”

“I am against double standards. Why is everyone always shouting about sports outside of politics, but when it comes to Russia, this principle is completely forgotten?” added the Zenit St Petersburg forward. “War is scary. In stressful situations, people show their essence, sometimes negative.”

“To some colleagues who sit in mansions in England and say nasty things: it cannot offend us, we understand everything! Peace and health to everybody!” Dzyuba concluded, in a post alongside a picture of him in the Russian national shirt.

The online spat comes after Fifa and Uefa suspended Russia from all competitions until further notice. Dzyuba’s international teammate, Fedor Smolov, posted “No to War!!!” on Instagram last week. - Guardian