MOSCOW (AP) — When Denis Glushakov scores a goal for Spartak Moscow, some fans cheer and some fans jeer.
Others take it even further.
Glushakov has become a target for Spartak fans after being accused of undermining popular coach Massimo Carrera, who ended Spartak’s 16-year wait for a Russian league title in 2016-17 but was fired in October after a string of poor results.
So when Glushakov scored to give his team a 1-0 lead over Lokomotiv Moscow on Sunday, many Spartak fans didn’t quite know how to react. The hardcore sectors, waving banners with Glushakov’s No. 8 crossed out, cheered the goal and then chanted that he was a “Judas” and demanded he leave the club.
The feud between the team captain and Spartak’s influential fan clubs has dominated Russian soccer talk for months, partly fueled by an Instagram poetry reading.
“He betrayed our club, our colors and all of us, everyone who supports Spartak with all their soul,” one major fan group said in a statement. “Denis, in his own selfish interest, instigated the team to undermine the coach, meaning intentionally losing games.”
There is no evidence Glushakov played any role in match-fixing, but he did have a difficult relationship with Carrera. The Italian coach dropped Glushakov and Andrei Yeshchenko to the reserves after they supposedly pressed the “like” button on an Instagram video of an actor reading a poem criticizing Carrera.
Last week, supporters twice ran onto the field toward Glushakov during matches. A fan who confronted the midfielder during Thursday’s Europa League loss to Rapid Vienna — leading to a UEFA disciplinary charge against Spartak — told Russian media he wanted the midfielder out. When another ran out during Sunday’s 2-1 win over Lokomotiv, Glushakov asked for leniency, saying the fan had simply wanted to shake his hand in support.
Once a hero to Spartak fans who called him “the funeral” for scoring crucial goals to kill off opposing teams, Glushakov said he just wants the fuss to die down.
“It’s not the easiest period in my life and everyone who knows me knows how strongly I love Spartak. Whatever happens, you need to put the team first and not think about me, other players or other people,” Glushakov wrote on Instagram on Sunday. “Congratulations on the win to all the fans, without exception.”
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