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02nd Mar 2022

Ukraine international Yaroslav Rakitskiy terminates contract early with Zenit

Callum Boyle

Zenit are the team that Vladimir Putin supports

Ukrainian international Yaroslav Rakitskiy has left Zenit St. Petersburg after the Russian side agreed to terminate his contract early.

Rakitskiy has left the club after he was dropped from the starting XI in response to the comments he made about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which he strongly condemned.

The defender was dropped to the bench for Zenit’s game against Real Betis in the Europa League and didn’t feature in the following league game after, with manager Sergei Semak saying at the weekend that he wasn’t sure if the 32-year-old would play again.

He said: “The atmosphere not only inside the club, but in the country is such that any person is worried and takes what is happening to heart.

“Yaroslav asked for a couple of days off to resolve his personal issues. Tomorrow he should be in training.

“It’s hard for me to say whether he will play again for Zenit. His contract is valid for three months.

“Each person makes his own decisions. He asked for the weekend, what will happen next? I don’t know.”

A statement from Zenit read: “Yaroslav Rakitskiy requested an early end to his contract and this has been agreed by the club.

“He joined Zenit in January 2019 and played 108 matches, scored seven goals and made 15 assists as a blue-white-sky blue player. While in St. Petersburg he won three league titles, the Russian Cup and two Super Cups.

“The club and our supporters wish to thank Yaroslav Rakitskiy for his time here and recognise the professionalism and passion he displayed while with us.

“We sincerely wish the best to Yaroslav, his friends and his family.”

Rakitskiy’s future at the club was also in doubt given that Russian president Vladimir Putin is a supporter of the club and that Zenit are a largely government-owned club with energy, and Russian-state owned, firm Gazprom owning the club.

So far, the only Russian footballer to publicly condemn the war is Dynamo Moscow forward Fedor Smolov, whereas national team captain Artem Dzyuba released a statement in response to Andriy Yarmolenko and Vitaliy Mykolenko’s comments.

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