Soccer-City defender Zinchenko questions Russian players’ silence

FA Cup Fifth Round - Peterborough United v Manchester City
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – FA Cup Fifth Round – Peterborough United v Manchester City – Weston Homes Stadium, Peterborough, Britain – March 1, 2022 Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko applauds fans REUTERS/Chris Radburn

March 5, 2022

(Reuters) – Manchester City’s Ukraine international Oleksandr Zinchenko has questioned the refusal of Russia’s leading footballers to speak out against their country’s invasion of his homeland.

After Russia invaded Ukraine last week, FIFA and UEFA suspended the country from international tournaments, but none of the nation’s top players has publicly criticised President Vladimir Putin’s decision to go to war.

“I was surprised that no one, not one of them, from all of them” has said anything, Zinchenko told the BBC.

“Most of them play in the national team and they have a lot of followers on Instagram, Facebook, wherever. And they can, they can at least they can do something to stop this war. Because the people can hear them.

“I already know that they (are) scared. But they’re scared of what? They’re not gonna do anything with them. At least they can say their positions, but they don’t, they just ignore it. I don’t know why.”

Zinchenko was on the bench for City’s first game after the invasion against Everton before being named captain for the FA Cup win over Peterborough on Wednesday. The 25-year-old said are never far from what is going on in his homeland.

“I’ll be honest, if not for my daughter, my family, I would be there,” he said.

“I’m so proud to be Ukrainian, and I will be forever for the rest of my life. And when you’re watching the people, how they fight for their lives.

“I know the people, the mentality of my people from my country, they prefer to die, and they will die. But they’re not going to give (up).”

Zinchenko, who started his professional career with Russian club Ufa before joining City in 2016, said the ongoing situation is taking an emotional toll.

“I’m just crying,” he said. “So already a week, I’m not counting, but even I can drive the car from the training ground, or it doesn’t matter where, I can just cry from nothing.”

(This story removes extraneous word at the end of paragraph 1)

(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by William Mallard)

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