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‘A red card isn’t cause for throwing punches’ Former Russian national team soccer player faces criminal charges for beating up referee during amateur match

Source: Meduza
Kristina Kormilitsyna / Kommersant

Police officials in Moscow have launched a criminal case against 39-year-old Roman Shirokov, a former midfielder for the Russian national soccer team, reports TASS citing an anonymous source in law enforcement. This was first reported by the Telegram based news outlet Baza. 

Professional soccer player Roman Shirokov achieved his greatest successes while playing for FC Zenit St. Petersburg from 2008–2014 (scoring 29 goals in 130 matches). During his time at the club, Zenit won the Russian championship twice, and won the UEFA Cup, the UEFA Super Cup, the Russian Cup, and the Russian Super Cup once each. He also played for FC Krasnodar, as well as the Moscow clubs Spartak and CSKA. From 2014–2016 he was captain of the Russian national soccer team. He won a bronze medal as part of the Russian national team in the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship. He was recognized as Russia’s best soccer player in 2012 and 2013. He retired from the sport in 2016.

The case was opened at the request of referee Nikita Danchenkov and is being investigated under Article 115 of the Russian Criminal Code: intentional infliction of bodily harm (battery). Shirokov’s lawyer, Vadim Lyalin, told TASS that he is aware of the criminal case, but has yet to see an official act. Police officials didn’t comment on the reports.

The case was launched over an incident that took place during the quarter finals of the Moscow Celebrity Cup on August 10. The television channel Match TV’s amateur team was playing the team from “Nothing Ordinary” (a self-described “creative association of professional football players”) at the Spartak Academy’s stadium in Moscow. Shirokov was playing for Match TV. During the game, referee Nikita Danchenkov gave Shirokov a red card, after which the player began beating up the referee — throwing punches at his head and kicking him after he fell to the ground. Other players stopped Shirokov. Dmitry Egorov, a journalist for the sports news site, released a video of the incident.

Warning: The following video contains scenes of violence and explicit language (in Russian).

The assault left Danchenkov with bruising and cuts around one of his eyes, as well as a minor neck injury. He received first aid from the doctors working at the match.

Danchenkov filed a police report following the assault. His lawyer, Alexander Ostrovsky, said that Shirokov’s actions should be considered “attempted murder motivated by hooliganism.” “The footballer’s blow to the head with terrible force can’t be called anything other than attempted murder. Thank God our referee was able to put his hands up to protect himself,” Danchenkov’s lawyer said. After the police initiated the criminal case, Ostrovsky said that he disagreed with the article it was opened under and promised to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office and the Investigative Committee.

Following the incident, Roman Shirokov apologized to the referee via Instagram, “for such an inappropriate act.” “I am well aware that not calling an obvious penalty and then showing a red card isn’t cause for throwing punches, I hope Nikitia will be back on track as soon as possible,” Shirokov said.

Match TV suspended Roman Shirokov from work following the incident. He’s worked for the television channel since 2016 — he signed a contract with Match TV after he retired from professional soccer.

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Story by Alexander Baklanov

Translation by Eilish Hart