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Zenit Dropped Ukrainian Defender Yaroslav Rakitskiy After Speaking Out Against Ongoing Russian Invasion

Daniel Marland

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Zenit Dropped Ukrainian Defender Yaroslav Rakitskiy After Speaking Out Against Ongoing Russian Invasion

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Zenit St. Petersburg reportedly dropped Ukraine international Yaroslav Rakitskiy for Thursday evening's Europa League clash with Real Betis after he spoke out against the ongoing Russian invasion.

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Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale military assault on neighbouring Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Parts of the country have been bombed and while Russian tanks and troops have crossed the borders.

Rakitskiy posted an image of the Ukrainian to his Instagram page and captioned it: "I'm Ukrainian!" in solidarity with his nation.

The 32-year-old has 54 caps for his country, scoring four times while representing them at Euro 2012 and Euro 2016 before retiring in 2019.

Per the Daily Mail, the decision to drop Rakitskiy was made due to Zenit's relationship with energy corporation Gazprom.

Gazprom are owned by the Russian government and Putin supports Zenit, with the company paying over £33 million a year to sponsor the Champions League.

St. Petersburg was set to host this season's Champions League final, but this week's developments have seen the game moved to Paris.

Rakitskiy played in last week's 3-2 defeat to Betis but remained on the bench for last night's 0-0 draw in Spain, which saw Zenit eliminated from the competition.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

Elsewhere, Atalanta and Ukraine midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi used last night's action to speak out and he unveiled a 'No war' t-shirt after scoring against Olympiacos.

Throughout the day, other Ukraine nationals expressed their disgust at the situation.

Manchester City defender Oleksandr Zinchenko attacked Putin on Instagram in a post which read: "I hope you die the most painful suffering death, creature."

The post quickly disappeared and it was alleged that Zinchenko had no idea it was deleted, with Instagram looking into the incident.

Zinchenko was seen attending protests in Manchester against the invasion later on Thursday evening.

Former boxing world champion and current mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, has said he will take up arms in the country alongside brother Wladimir.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said 137 people had been killed and 316 have been wounded in the invasion so far.

Topics: Europa League, Football, Russia, Zenit, Ukraine

Daniel Marland
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