Political pressure has apparently been exerted on football clubs in at least four countries not to bring in players and coaches from Russia
Political pressure has been applied to football clubs in England, Germany, Switzerland and the US not to sign Russian players or coaches, according to sports agent German Tkachenko.
Russian football teams have been banned from all FIFA and UEFA competitions in the wake of the military campaign in Ukraine, although some Russian stars such as midfielder Aleksandr Golovin continue to play at clubs outside the country, in his case at French team Monaco.
But some clubs have been warned against signing new Russian talent, says football agent Tkachenko.
His Pro Sports Management agency lists the likes of Russian international striker Fedor Smolov and Uzbek star Eldor Shomurodov, who plays at Jose Mourinho’s Roma, as among its clients.
“As for the cancelation of Russian football in Europe as a whole, this is not only a matter of public opinion,” Tkachenko told Russian outlet Sport24.
“There is the matter of direct pressure from political and bureaucratic organizations on clubs and federations… I know that in America, Germany, England, and Switzerland there was even a special instruction not to acquire coaches and football players from Russia,” he claimed.
Tkachenko cited tennis tournament Wimbledon as a similar example, where Russian and Belarusian players were banned this year because of the situation in Ukraine. Justifying the move, Wimbledon organizers partly cited guidance from the UK government.
The agent added that he had spoken with other figures in Russian football, including ones with “strong connections in international football.”
“And we still believe that now, for political reasons, the transfer of Russian players to Europe is still too unrealistic,” said Tkachenko.
Tkachenko admitted, however, that the situation could improve, explaining that “just recently it has changed for the better. Even the rhetoric of clubs – especially Spanish and Italian, and to a lesser extent German – has become a little softer: ‘People, meaning the players, are not to blame for anything.’”
Tkachenko also acknowledged that even in more stable circumstances, Russian players often struggled to attract interest from top European leagues.
There are exceptions such as Russia and Dynamo Moscow teenager Arsen Zakharyan – who is rumored to be on the radar of Spanish giants Barcelona – but Tkachenko said unless players had that level of talent, “there can only be random deals for Russian players to Europe in the near future.”
The Russian Football Union (RFU) is fighting the UEFA and FIFA bans against Russian teams at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland, with hearings getting underway this week.