Arshavin gets heat from club owner
Russia's captain Andrei Arshavin came under attack from the owner of his domestic club on Thursday for dismissing the national squad's poor Euro 2012 performance as a problem only for the fans.
Zenit Saint Petersburg owner and chief sponsor Gazprom – a natural gas giant that makes ultimate decisions about player transfers – said the star midfielder's remarks displayed a lack of patriotism and good taste.
"How can a citizen of Russia treat the honour of his country like that?" Gazprom deputy chairman Valery Golubev was quoted as saying by Interfax.
A company spokesman also appeared to rule out an immediate role for Arshavin – currently on loan to Zenit from Arsenal – in future commercials for the state-owned company.
"Arshavin is not taking any part in Gazprom advertising right now," spokesman Sergei Kuprianov was quoted as saying. Arshavin this year fronted a major advertising campaign for Gazprom.
And Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller said only that his firm "would examine" an offer to keep Arshavin next season if one came from Arsenal.
Problems for the 31-year-old began shortly after Russia lost their final Group A match against Greece on Saturday and failed to make it out of a group in which they were favoured going into the championship.
Mobile phone footage of Arshavin telling a group of Russian lawmakers after the match that "if we did not fulfil your expectations, then honestly, these are your problems" has created a furore in Moscow.
Arshavin has already been criticised by Russian Football Union bosses and condemned by football pundits on the country's most watched television sports shows.
The talismanic player still has no Russian contract for the 2012-2013 campaign and had stayed out of the public limelight until a Thursday appearance on local television in which he apologised for the early exit – but not his remarks.
"Our showing disappointed us and, of course, the fans," Arshavin told a local television station that broadcasts Zenit Saint Petersburg matches.
"We understand this. And I – as the captain, speaking in the name of the players and myself – would like to apologise for our showing," a contrite Arshavin said in a monotone voice.
But he notably failed to include any words of regret about the hotel lobby exchange.