Ganz nach Otto Rehhagel: Mal verliert man und mal gewinnen die anderen, hat Dinamo Moskau in der letzten Saison etwas zu oft verloren und verabschiedet sich damit in die zweite Liga. Die Fans haben es nicht ganz so sportlich genommen, was der ein oder andere Spieler deutlich zu spüren bekam.
Unser Mann aus Moskau berichtet.
Dinamo fans take relegation badly
After an unexpected disastrous ending to an already poor season, fans of Dinamo Moscow reacted to the club’s relegation from the Russian Premier League (RFPL) with more than just disappointment, as property was vandalised and fans were allegedly involved in the assault of one of their own players.
As one of Russia’s most history-laden clubs, and with an ambitious new multi-sport arena going up in place of the historic, but decrepit Dinamo Stadium, fans’ can be forgiven for having higher hopes for the future. However, after a miserable run of results at the end of the season, which saw the team lose six of their seven last matches, including the last four in a row, Dinamo will play in the second-tier National Football League (FNL) next season. This is the first time in the club’s history that it will not play in the nation’s top division.
Despite the poor run of form, relegation was only confirmed on the last day of the season with a limp home defeat, 0-3 to Zenit St. Petersburg. After the final whistle, around ten fans ran onto the pitch to confront the players. The atmosphere in the stadium at this point had become poisonous and players were ushered quickly from the pitch to the safety of the changing rooms.
After the game, an angry crowd of fans congregated outside the team’s temporary home of Arena Khimki, as the team were held inside a VIP section at the stadium. Perhaps this perceived ‘cowardice’ enraged the fans even further, as they broke glass partitions on the outside of the holding area facing the street, seriously injuring a police officer inside with flying glass. At this point the majority of the crowd realised the situation had escalated and fled the scene. Nevertheless, the team bus was prevented from leaving the stadium until all fans had left the scene – some 90 minutes after the match finished.
The anger felt among fans was largely directed towards the club’s management, but also towards the players involved in the team’s fall from grace. Chief among these players to feel the heat was defender Andrey Yeshchenko, the 32-year-old former Russian international who only signed for Dinamo from fellow strugglers Anzhi Makhachkala in the January transfer window. At the time, fans joked “you sent Anzhi down, so will we be next?”, hardly daring to guess that this might happen a few short months later. Why Yeshchenko was the target of particular hatred by the fans is not clear. The player previously made international headlines in 2015 when a video emerged of him crashing his car at 170 km/h while driving in Krasnodar, where he was playing on loan at FK Kuban.
On the day following the match, reports emerged that Yeshchenko had been beaten up by angry fans of the club in an incident in central Moscow. The club moved to deny reports of the incident, with spokesman Konstantin Alekseev telling journalists from Russian TV channel REN TV that he had spoken with Yeshchenko, saying “he asks everyone to calm down. There was no assault. He’s fine – he’s at home.” The club also made the same claim in a separate announcement on its official Twitter account. At the same time, the player himself told the Match TV website: “Fight? What fight? Everything’s ok. Nothing happened. I’m relaxing at home.”
Nevertheless, a video of the alleged incident later came to light, showing a white Range Rover stopping before two men get out attack a third, while a woman looks on. Traffic police officers on the scene quickly intervene to break up the fight, although the assailants are seen struggling with the police to get back at their target. It is not immediately clear where the victim comes from prior to the assault, with some reports claiming he was already in the vehicle with his attackers when the assault began. Local traffic police confirmed that they broke up a fight and escorted the victim of the assault back to the nearest station for first aid. The attackers apparently got back into their vehicle and simply drove away from the scene.
On Monday, 6 June, Dinamo fan groups held a demonstration in Petrovskiy Park, next to the construction site where their new stadium is set to appear in the next two years. Around 400 participants, carrying signs with slogans such as “Dilettantes! Do something or leave!”, called for the resignation of the club’s leadership, including the head of the Board of Directors, Vladimir Pronichev, along with General Director, Sergey Sysoev. Fans were also protesting against the hiring of new manager Yuriy Kalitvintsev, former head coach of the Ukrainian national team. Despite the demonstration being given official permission from the authorities, the protests later turned violent as around 10-15 of the demonstrators clashed with security forces.
In July 2015, Dinamo Moscow became the first Russian club to be sanctioned by UEFA under the organisation’s Financial Fair Play guidelines, after spending more on players and wages than they received in football-related turnover during 2014. This led to the club’s expulsion from the Europa League competition in 2015-16 – something that fans involved in the demonstration blame squarely on the “incompetent” leadership of the club.
In the wake of the events following the relegation, Dinamo fans also published an open letter to Russian president Vladimir Putin on various social networks, calling for him to intervene at the club and place it in the sole hands of state investment bank VTB, whose name the new stadium will already carry. The letter asks that shares in the club are then sold onto members of “the Russian business elite” who are “interested in and not indifferent to the fate of the club.” However, whether those at the top will step in to influence the fate of the fallen giant, remains to be seen.
Sources: (in Russian)