/Football pundit booted off Ukrainian TV channel for Russia comments
Football pundit booted off Ukrainian TV channel for Russia comments

Football pundit booted off Ukrainian TV channel for Russia comments

World News The director of the channel said it would no longer work with the former Ukraine international star

A Ukrainian TV channel has ended its cooperation with former international footballer Viktor Leonenko after he refused to condemn Russian sports stars for supposedly keeping silent over the conflict in Ukraine.Leonenko had just appeared in a charity match in Kiev when he made the comments, suggesting in an interview that Russian athletes should not be judged if they don’t speak out against Moscow’s military operation.“I don’t think that the athletes are to blame…  In Russia, you can immediately go to jail for your words. Everything is clear here. Therefore, I don’t especially condemn the athletes, because many are silent because you can get a sentence. We are peaceful people,” Leonenko, who was born in the Russian city of Tyumen, was quoted as saying.The director of Ukrainian channels Football 1, 2 and 3, Alexander Denysov, later announced Leonenko would no longer be appearing as a pundit.“All his statements in the interview, it’s just his position… To justify their silence position is beyond cynicism. Channel Football after this interview ended its cooperation with Victor Leonenko,” wrote Denysov on social media.  Leonenko, 52, enjoyed a club career which included spells at Dynamo Moscow and Dynamo Kiev, also being capped 14 times by Ukraine between 1992 and 1996, scoring six international goals.The former striker entered punditry after his retirement and had been working with Ukrainian channels Football 1, 2 and 3 since 2013.After the onset of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, several current Ukrainian international stars publicly insulted Russia and Zenit St. Petersburg forward Artem Dzyuba – one of his country’s most famous stars – for his supposed silence.Dzyuba responded by saying he was “proud to be Russian.”

World News ‘I’m proud to be Russian,’ says football star after being targeted by Ukraine players

“War is scary. But I’m also against human aggression and hate which acquires greater proportions every day,” wrote the 2018 World Cup star on Instagram.“I am against discrimination based on nationality. I’m not ashamed that I’m Russian. I’m proud to be Russian. And I don’t understand why athletes should suffer now,” added Dzyuba, referring to the sweeping sporting sanctions placed on the country.The 33-year-old also responded to Ukrainian stars at English Premier League clubs who have criticized him, such as Everton’s Vitaliy Mykolenko and West Ham’s Andriy Yarmolenko.  “P.S. And to some colleagues who sit on their backsides in mansions in England and say nasty things: this cannot offend us, we understand everything! Peace and kindness to all!” added Dzyuba.

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