A Montenegrin striker who fell out of favour with his Russian Premier League club Kuban Krasnodar says he was beaten into terminating his contract. Nikola Nikezic has written to Fifa president Sepp Blatter claiming he was beaten on 7 March by two men in an office at the club's headquarters in Krasnodar in southern Russia.
A copy of the letter was posted yesterday on the website of the union of Russian footballers and coaches, along with a video message by Nikezic, who said the men who beat him 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. He said he signed a contract termination out of fear for his life after being beaten for 20 minutes.
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 press service did not immediately respond to written requests for clarification.
The 29-year-old Nikezic, whose contract was to run until November, said he was told he was surplus to requirements at Kuban, and said he was excluded from pre-season training in Turkey and even forbidden from working out with Kuban's junior team.
Kuban began their Premier League season on Sunday with a 2-0 home loss to Rubin Kazan.
Kuban president Alexander Tkachev is also the powerful governor of the Krasnodar region and a close ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Coach Dan Petrescu led Kuban to the first division title last season, earning a spot in the Premier League.
Russian football has failed to shrug off its murky reputation with corruption scandals breaking persistently since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Meanwhile, Barcelona are satisfied that reports linking them to doping practices have nothing to do with bitter rivals Real Madrid.
The Catalan giants are considering legal action against radio station Cadena Cope for insinuations made during a broadcast on Sunday night, and have been contacted by the president of their great rivals, Florentino Perez, insisting no one at Real had anything to do with Cadena Cope's report.
Toni Freixa, a spokesman for the Barcelona board, told marca.com: "The president of Madrid has already contacted us to say that the club has nothing to do with this information. [Barcelona president Sandro] Rosell has no reason to disbelieve him. These reports are a serious blow to the reputation of Barcelona, their doctors and athletes."
The club said in a statement yesterday: "FC Barcelona is demanding an immediate rectification and wishes to let it be known that its legal department is studying possible legal action to defend the club's honour, alongside that of its coaching staff, players and medical staff and is prepared to take such action to its final consequences."
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies