Chechen strongman taunts referee, apologises later

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on Monday admitted to taking control of the public address system during a home match played by his local football team, Terek Grozny, to shout: “The referee is corrupt. You jerk!”

“Yes it was me, Ramzan Kadyrov,” he told the RIA Novosti news agency after his booming voice interrupted play in the match against Rubin Kazan on Sunday evening – which ended 0-0.

“I had serious reasons to do this. What’s more, my grievances against the referee are not only about this game,” he said.

“The actions of the referee require careful investigation. We must not allow one man to spoil the whole game.”

As the referee, Mikhail Vilkov, handed out a red card to the Terek captain Rizvan Utsiyev, an infuriated yell rang out across the stadium to cheers from the crowd, according to television footage posted on YouTube.

“What on Earth?” the television commentator said repeatedly.

Kadyrov late on Sunday wrote on his Instagram: “I apologise to the whole football world for what I said in the heat of the moment. But not to the referee, he deserved to be called corrupt.”

There were initial doubts about whether Kadyrov had himself spoken on the public address system or an announcer.

Kadyrov is named as the head of the Terek club on its website.

Kadyrov, who recently played host to French actor Gerard Depardieu and gave him an apartment in Grozny, rules Chechnya with a paternalistic yet informal style, travelling in a vast motorcade but rarely wearing a suit and tie.

A report on the incident has been sent to the Russian Football Union, the executive director of the Russian Premier League, Sergei Cheban, told the Interfax news agency.

The punishment could be a fine or holding matches behind closed doors, according to how the incident is classified, Russian media reported.

Kadyrov on Monday refused to back down.

“The decision of the Russian Football Union on this incident is law to us. However hard it is, we are ready to accept it. But I won’t take my words back,” he told journalists in Grozny.

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