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“Maybe I’ll be killed”: Prominent Russian footballer opposes Putin’s war of aggression

Igor Denisov (left) during a friendly against Italy in 2012.
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Igor Denisov (left) during a friendly against Italy in 2012. © Walter Bieri/dpa

Former Russian national team captain Igor Denisov has publicly spoken out against the war in Ukraine and has criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin.

MOSCOW – Former soccer player Igor Denisov has proved one of the few Russian athletes against the Aggressive war in Ukraine pronounced. It was a shock and a horror when he found out about the invasion in February. That’s what the 38-year-old ex-captain of the national team said in an interview with sports blogger Nobel Arustamyan published on Wednesday. “I’m against people dying,” said the midfielder, who was also a four-time Russian champion.

At the beginning of the war he even sent a video message to the President Wladimir Putin recorded with a request to stop the war. “I’m ready to get on my knees before you,” he said. But Russian media would not have published the message, Denisov said without further details. Even his friends would have advised him against it.

Ukraine conflict: Ex-soccer player Denisov publicly criticizes Putin

The Russian population is partly to blame for the war, “because we don’t manage to convey our point of view to the government,” he said. “I might be imprisoned or killed for saying those words, but I’ll tell it like it is,” the former soccer player continued. “My perception of the whole thing has changed drastically. I have not slept. I probably slept three hours for four days. I was just shocked,” Denisov said.

The 38-year-old continues that he is a simple person and is now afraid, but he cannot help but speak up. “I’m not hiding, I’m not going anywhere. I don’t need it.” The midfielder was captain of the national team, the Sbornaja, for a time after 2012 under coach Fabio Capello. Denisov made a total of 54 appearances for the Russian national team. Most recently he played for Lokomotiv Moscow and ended his career in 2019. (dpa/fmü)

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