Russian fans want heads to roll, and they’re not alone. Lawmakers from the Krasnodar region are proposing to slap the Russia players with stiff penalties, according to Russia Today.
“They [lawmakers] now want the degree of blame of each national team member who appeared on the pitch at the tournament in Poland and Ukraine to be determined, and have put forward a range of punishments, depending on the negative impact the player made on the game,” the report says.
“The MPs propose to prevent some of the footballers, like Andrey Arshavin, Roman Shirokov and Alan Dzagoev, from starring in TV adds, and to ban others from transfers to foreign clubs and instead move the worst to the lower leagues.
“Those behind the initiative have prepared a formal appeal which they plan to forward to the country’s vice-premier, Dmitry Kozak, who’s in charge of sports in the government.”
Despite playing some of the tournament’s best attacking soccer, Russia failed to advance from a relatively weak Group A to the knockout rounds. Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Greece left some wondering “what could have been?” Many more were looking for someone to blame.
Russia captain Arshavin has come under fire for his reaction to the defeat. When a journalist suggested that Russia failed to meet fans’ expectations, Arshavin said, “that’s their problem.” Arshavin had a good tournament on a personal level, but his team’s failure threatens to undo any goodwill his performances generated.
The penalties are unlikely to be imposed, as Russia wants to project a positive image ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup (which it will host). FIFA wouldn’t look kindly on a government penalizing players for poor performance. But strange things have been known to occur in Russian soccer.