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RFU: evidence proving condition of flare-hit Russian goalkeeper to be sent to UEFA

March 28, 2015, 7:21 UTC+3 PODGORICA
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PODGORICA, Montenegro, March 29. /TASS/. Russia’s Football Union will present to the union of European football associations UEFA a detailed medical conclusion regarding the condition of Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeyev, who suffered a severe injury at the beginning of a Group G 2016 World Cup qualifier against Montenegro on Friday evening, Russian Football Union President Nikolai Tolstykh told the media.

"We will collect all documents concerning Akinfeyev’s condition and send them to UEFA," Tolstykh said.

Earlier, he promised the RFU would protest the decision made by the UEFA delegate’s at the match, Barry Bright, of Britain, to resume play after Akinfeyev was hit by a flare hurled at him by one of the fans. The incident occurred seconds after kick-off. Akinfeyev suffered concussion and a burn of the neck. The match had to be eventually terminated in the 68th minute with no goals scored by either side after an object was thrown at Russian defender Dmitry Kombarov. Montenegro are now faced with a 0:3 technical defeat and disqualification of the home stadium.

Tolstykh said that after the match he had a quick word with the president of Montenegro’s football Federation, Dejan Savicevic. "He agreed that the match should have been terminated the moment the flare hit Akinfeyev in the head," Tolstykh said.

The decision to prolong the match made by the referee, Deniz Aytekin, looked strange to Russia’s midfielder Roman Shirokov, who agreed to share his impressions with the media.

"The referee made a strange decision, indeed," Shirokov said. "As far as I know, the delegate had had consultations with some UEFA people. He then told the players that the match would be prolonged, but terminated at once if more incidents followed. Various things continued to be thrown at our players before halftime. Fans often get aggressive but they seldom throw something at players. Montenegro fans were just inadequate," Shirokov remarked.

"What happened to Akinfeyev had a very adverse effect on the team’s morale. Did we seek revenge? No, we just wished to win," he explained.

Shirokov said he would like to let everybody know neither he nor his fellow players had any grudge against the opponents. "After the match some of our guys exchanged T-shirts with Montenegrins. We didn’t feel angry about them at all. We know very well they are not to blame. The fans were just inadequate," Shirokov said.

He avoided offering any excuses for failing to put Russia in the lead from the penalty spot shortly before the game had to be halted.

"That laser pointer would be a lame excuse," Shirokov said about the laser beam some of the fans had directed at him. "The goalkeeper outplayed me," he acknowledged.

The honorary president of Russia’s Football Union, Vyacheslav Koloskov, believes that the referee’s decision to let the match proceed was in strict compliance with the spirit of the game and sportsmanship in general.

"The delegate and the referee made a very ‘footbally’ decision, I should say. They let the players play. True, they had every reason for stopping the game. I don’t think that their aim was to help the organizers avoid unrest that might have followed in case of the game’s termination," Koloskov said. "And our team acted very properly when it agreed to appear on the pitch after such an incident."

When the match had to be eventually discontinued, Russian fans - and there about a thousand of them present - left the stadium in Podgorica without any incidents. They were allowed to leave after a one-hour delay, though.

During the match there was a minor incident on the stands, when local fans in defiance of the police cordon started throwing seats at Russian fans in the neighboring sector. The conflict did not last.

In the meantime, the Russian team, including Akinfeyev, is returned to Moscow. The plane landed at Sheremetievo airport early Saturday morning. Upon arrival Akinfeyev told the media he was well.

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