Russian league player alleges violence

Updated: March 15, 2011, 3:54 PM ET
Associated Press

MOSCOW -- A soccer player from Montenegro who fell out of favor with his Russian club says he was beaten into terminating his contract by armed men and feared for his life.

A team executive dismissed the claim as "pure idiocy."

Nikola Nikezic, who played for Kuban Krasnodar in the Russian Premier League, outlined what happened in a letter to FIFA president Sepp Blatter. He contends the 20-minute beating by two men took place March 7 in an office at the club's headquarters in Krasnodar in southern Russia.

When I replied that my contract has another year to run ... I received a powerful blow to the liver.

-- Nikola Nikezic

A copy of the letter was posted Tuesday on the website of the union of Russian soccer players and coaches. There was also a video message by Nikezic, who said the men had guns and threatened to "make an invalid" out of him.

"When I replied that my contract has another year to run ... I received a powerful blow to the liver," Nikezic wrote.

Kuban sporting director Sergei Doronchenko called the Nikezic's claims "wild" in comments carried by the website.

"It's clear that this football player and his acquaintances just want money from Kuban," Doronchenko was quoted as saying. "We are shocked by such news. ... It's pure idiocy."

Kuban president Alexander Tkachyov is also the powerful governor of the Krasnodar region and a close ally of prime minister Vladimir Putin. Russian soccer has a murky reputation, with corruption scandals breaking persistently since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Before his attackers made off with the signed documents, Nikezic said they warned him that "a lot of Russians live in Montenegro, and they can always find you or a member of your family, so don't do anything stupid."

He said a club trainer by the name of Nikolai Khlistunov invited him to sign the termination before the beating. Khlistunov, he said, let him know that "failure to do so could result in me not being able to leave Krasnodar or to return to Montenegro disabled."

Khlistunov wasn't listed on the club's website, and the club's media service did not immediately respond to written requests for clarification.

Nikezic's contract was to run through November. The 29-year-old player said he was excluded from preseason training in Turkey and forbidden from even working out with Kuban's junior team.

Kuban won the first division title last season, earning promotion to the Premier League. It began its Premier League season Sunday with a 2-0 home loss to Rubin Kazan.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press