A soccer player of Armenian origin is facing a large financial punishment for allegedly suggesting that the coach of Russian club Spartak, Murat Yakin of Turkey, has kept him off the first-string team because of his ethnicity.
Spartak director Roman Askhabadze said on April 29 that the player, Aras Ozbilis, will be deprived of a substantial bonus.
Russian newspaper Sport-Ekspress published an interview in which Ozbilis suggested that Yakin, an ethnic Turk, had refused to bring him back up to the club's first-string team after an injury last year because he is Armenian.
According to the newspaper, Ozbilis said that he had been informed of Yakin's decision on April 24, the day Armenians marked the centennial of mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey, which Armenia and some other countries consider genocide. Turkey objects to the word.
On April 29, Ozbilis told news site championat.com that parts of his interview were distorted and that he would never have suggested an ethnic motive as he was born in Istanbul, speaks Turkish fluently, and has relatives and many friends in Turkey.