Madrid (AFP) – La Liga president Javier Tebas said Thursday criminal action could be taken over threats which saw Ukranian international Roman Zozulya end his loan spell at Rayo Vallecano after just one day.
Zozulya joined Madrid-based Rayo on Tuesday from Real Betis on a six-month loan deal, but returned to Betis on Wednesday after being met with protests by Rayo fans over his political affiliations.
In a letter to Rayo fans, Zozulya admitted to having collaborated with the Ukranian army during the civil war in his homeland.
However, he denied having any “link to or supporting any paramilitary or Neo-Nazi group.”
“If in my future conversations it is shown that there was clear coercion or if the president of Rayo and the player tell me they have been threatened, I will launch a criminal complaint for coercion,” said Tebas.
Zozulya was met with the banners reading “Vallekas is not the place for Nazis” at Rayo’s training ground on Wednesday by the club’s ultra-left wing supporters’ group.
The rest of the Betis squad showed their support for Zozulya in a joint statement on Thursday.
“We are here to express our indignation at the events that our teammate Roman Zozulya has suffered in the past few hours,” said Betis captain Joaquin surrounded by the rest of the squad.
“We have witnessed a public lynching of a footballer whose professionalism and personal behaviour has been impeccable since his arrival.”
Zozulya has made six appearances for Betis since joining on a free transfer from Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk at the start of the season.
However, he will be unable to play for Betis for the rest of the season despite returning as his registration has been ceded to Rayo for six months.
The 27-year-old claimed in his letter to Rayo fans on Wednesday that accusations of his far-right beliefs come from a misunderstanding of a symbol he wore on a t-shirt upon his arrival in Seville to sign for Betis.
He has received support from Ukranian tennis player Sergiy Stakhovsky, who shocked Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2013.
“Dear ultras of @RVMOficial – Looks like you are uneducated, close minded individuals. Your club don’t deserve a player like @zozulyaroman18,” Stakhovsky posted on his Twitter account.
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
- Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
- Price: $35/mo. for Sling Blue
- Watch Premier League, World Cup & MLS
- Includes USA, NBC, FOX, FS1 + more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $4.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
- Three talking points from the Premier League’s opening weekend
- Former Man Utd star Giggs goes on trial for assault
- Marseille win Ligue 1 season opener, Ramsey scores on Nice debut
- Lewandowski scores first Barcelona goal in Pumas rout
- Sundowns start season as they ended the last by topping table
- Haaland warns Premier League much more to come after dream debut
- RB Leipzig held at Stuttgart, Cologne defeat 10-man Schalke
- Haaland double gives Man City dream start, Man Utd beaten by Brighton
- Haaland’s debut double gives Man City’s title defence lift off
- Dortmund sign Cologne striker Modeste as Haller replacement