Fulham striker Pavel Pogrebnyak has said in a recent interview that it is laughable when a black player represents Russia.
The 35-year-old, who played for both Fulham and Reading during a three-year stay in England, represented Russia 33 times, and played at the European Championship in 2012.
He made the racist remarks in an interview with a local tabloid in the central Russian city of Yekaterinburg. He saidl
“I don’t see the point of this. I do not understand at all why Ari (Brazilian-born Ariclenes da Silva Ferreira) 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.”
Vladimir Putin’s human rights advisor, Mikhail Fedotov, said Pogrebnyak’s comments “smelt of racism” after the Ural Yekaterinburg forward spoke out against the number of naturalised Russians representing the national team.
Responding to Pogrebnyak’s claims, head of Russia’s presidential Human Rights Council, Fedotov told TV channel 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.”