Kuban striker claims manhandling by hired goons forced contract cancellation

Burly Russian chaps administering a kicking, guns and blackmail; it all sounds very 007 and definitely not goings-on you’d expect at a football club, but things look like they could get very ugly for Dan Petrescu and chums at Kuban Krasnodar in the not-too-distant future.

Everyone got tremendously excited this week when the gang at Kommersant got their mitts on a very interesting letter penned by the club’s now ex-forward Nikola Nikezić to the bigwigs at UEFA and FIFA, in which he made some pretty astonishing allegations regarding the “mutual” termination of his contract with the newly-promoted Premier League team.

The 29-year-old claims he was duffed up by a couple of goons at their training ground last week, and under duress made to prematurely call time on his career in Krasnodar.

Nikezić joined Kuban from the French side Le Havre on a two-year deal in 2009, which was due to run out this coming November. Last season he made 31 appearances for the club, scoring four goals, but Nikezić had fallen out of favour in Krasnodar and they preferred it if he exited pretty sharpish, rather than stuck around while he found new employers.

As does its league (for now), the Russian transfer window operates on a slightly different calendar to western Europe, which closed some time ago, so opportunities for the Montenegrin were slim. Even for Russian clubs, a player approaching 30 on a decent salary who hadn’t been involved in any meaningful preseason training isn't exactly an attractive prospect.

"I signed a two-year deal with Kuban in March 2010 and helped the club to win promotion into the Premier League last year," Nikezić told Kommersant. "This year, however, I was told the club didn't need me any more, offering to break up the contract, but I refused."

Nikezić alleges it then all turned rather nasty at Kuban’s training ground on March 7.

“I refused and after a few minutes two men of strong built [sic] entered the room, following which, the trainer immediately left the room, leaving the three of us alone. One of the men put the papers in front of me and in an aggressive manner demanded from me that I sign the papers terminating the employment contract.” Nikezić said in his letter sent to both Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini.

“When I replied that my contract has another year to run, and that these negotiations are to be carried out in presence [sic] of my representatives, I received a powerful blow to the liver. The second man, who was in the office, took off his jacket, and under it I saw two pistols in a holster. They once again demanded I sign the documents, and when I refused, I received a second powerful blow to the same spot."

No, not these Goons...

“They started to strangle me, and threatened to make an invalid out of me, and then proceeded to ask me to sign the documents. This continued for around 20 minutes, until I was left with no energy and a great fear for my life. I signed three copies of the agreement and two documents, the content of which is unknown to me since in was in Russian (my original contact with FC “Kuban” was in English and Russian).”

He finished: “As soon as I signed the documents, they took everything and left the room. On the way out one of the men turned to me and said, ‘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’. The same day I took the photos with marks of the blow that I received (please see attached) and left Krasnodar since I was scared that the same people will attack me.”

Said images appeared on Sovetsky Sport’s website yesterday.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that the “trainer” the Montenegrin refers to isn't Dan Petrescu, but Nikolai Khlystunov, and the Romanian’s name hasn’t been brought up in the allegations.

Nikezić also stated to football’s governing bodies that rather than joining up with the first team squad on their preseason training camp in Turkey, he was put on a rather less glamorous schedule of a couple of two-hour jogs each day.

Handbags are out though and Kuban, whose president is Alexander Tkachyov, the governor of Krasnodar Krai (region) and an ally of Vladimir Putin, are threatening to sue Nikezić.

“Such lies and libel that was aimed at the club will not remain without due legal assessment,” responded their director-general Suren Mkrtchyan.

Nikezić legged it to Moscow after the alleged fisticuffs in Krasnodar, where he met up with the Union of Football Players and Coaches of Russia (PSFT), prompting him to fire off his missives to UEFA and FIFA.

“I don’t think the Russian Football Union will investigate this case properly, that is why I decided to go directly to FIFA and UEFA. I can’t let them get away with it. I demand sanctions are imposed on the football club,” he told Kommersant.

FIFPro claims Nikezić will be $230,000 out of pocket by exiting prematurely; Kuban’s budget for the year is purported to be around the $30m mark.

Their sporting director Sergei Doronchenko hit out at his claims. “It's clear that this football player and his acquaintances just want money from Kuban," he was quoted as saying by Championat.ru, a popular Russian sports website. "We are shocked by such news. … It's pure idiocy."

Things took a twist after Nikezić’s allegations surfaced when Sreten Sretenovic, a defender once of Kuban, chipped in with his two cents’ worth, claiming he also exited the club in controversial circumstances recently too. Cripes.

UEFA and FIFA really do need to get to the bottom of this, and soon; it can’t be swept under the carpet or left to linger. The affair could prove to be a real stern test for the Code of Conduct that was introduced not long ago in Russia too.

A meeting has been scheduled between the ethics committee and the PSFT on Friday, where Kuban representatives will also be present.

Stay tuned…

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