The Kremlin-backed leader of formerly war-torn Chechnya has apologised after using a stadium public address system to insult a football referee during a match.
Ramzan Kadyrov was furious after his team Terek Grozny were reduced to 10 men following a bad challenge by their captain Rizvan Utsiev in the 83rd minute of Sunday evening's game against Rubin Kazan at the Akhmat-Arena.
The controversial leader’s furious reaction was heard by everyone in the stadium after he grabbed a microphone and shouted: “The refs been bought off! You’re an ass!”.
The head of the Russian province later admitted his outburst on his Instagram account but refused to apologise the referee: “Yes it was me, Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic”.
“It was a terrible game because the referee was biased. He did everything possible to change the outcome of the match - didn't award a [clear] penalty and gave Utsyev a second yellow”
“I apologise to the whole football world for what I said in the heat of the moment. But not to the referee, he deserved to be called corrupt.”
Kadyrov has made headlines before. The unexpected and bizarre appointment of Ruud Gullit as Terek manager and his subsequent sacking five months raised eyebrows. Kadyrov as usual did not hold back in his criticism of the Dutch football legend.
"Gullit's actions over the last half a year show that he has no idea about the players and the team," said the statement. "The team has no flowing play, no recognisable style. Terek has never played so badly.2
Terek were angered by Gullit's remarks to a British newspaper before his sacking that “you can't have a drink and you can't communicate with anyone [in Chechnya ]." The furious club responded in a statement claiming "in Chechnya there is not the drug addiction and awful nightlife venues that are everywhere in Holland and Europe".
In 2011, Kadyrov invited Brazil's 2002 World Cup-winning side to take on a team captained by himself. Chechnya versus Brazil featured Seleção greats such as Romário, Bebeto, Cafu, Dunga and Denílson against the region’s attention loving leader. The bizarre match was dubbed a stunt by critics to show how safe Chechnya is despite insurgent violence that continues to plague Russia's northern Caucasus region.
Recently the Chechen despot entertained Gérard Depardieu at his home after the actor took Russian citizenship to protest against planned tax hikes in France. Depardieu, best known for his roles in films such as Asterix, said he visited Chechnya because he wanted to make a film about the achievements of Kadyrov.
Kadyrov, the son of former Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov, who was assassinated in May 2004, has been accused of human rights abuses by opponents. He has overseen a remarkable transition in the Chechen capital once described by the United Nations as “the most destroyed city on earth.” Today there are skyscrapers in Grozny following huge investment from Moscow.
Kadyrov gave an insight into his leadership strategy on television: "I'm the boss here. I'm at the wheel. There is nobody else, except me. Do you understand? Ramzan – and that's it! Nobody else! Ramzan! There's Ramzan and then there's everyone else."
He wanted to use the 2018 World Cup in Russia to boost the image of his region around the world but the football authorities have decided against adding Grozny to the list of host cities for the tournament.
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