Russian footballer Smolov responds after claims he 'fled lockdown and returned from Spain for fiancee's 18th birthday'
Russian footballer Fedor Smolov has responded after claims he is facing disciplinary measures at loan club Celta Vigo for violating coronavirus lockdown restrictions in Spain and returning to his homeland without permission.
The 39-times capped Russian forward, who is on loan at La Liga team Celta from Lokomotiv Moscow, is reported to have flown by private jet to a neighboring country before driving the remainder of the way into Russia.
Smolov, 30, becomes the second Celta Vigo player to reportedly face a fine after his teammate Pione Sisto also broke quarantine procedures by driving to his home in Denmark.
"[Smolov] repeatedly requested permission to travel to Russia for a personal matter," an internal figure within Celta Vigo said to Spanish sports publication AS.
"The club could not give it to him because La Liga did not authorize it, but he promptly reported his movements and left with the commitment to return once he solved his personal affairs."
AS has claimed that Smolov's return to Russia and "personal affairs" coincide with the 18th birthday of Maria Yumasheva, granddaughter of late Russian leader Boris Yeltsin and alleged fiancée of the footballer.
Reports in the Russian press claimed the pair had become engaged earlier this year after being pictured on holiday together, although Yumasheva's brother Boris Jr. later said he knew nothing about the claims.
That has not stopped the likes of The Guardian stating firmly that Smolov was returning for his purported fiancée's birthday.
However, Smolov himself later took to Instagram to issue posts in Russian and Spanish stating that he had returned to Russia "to be closer to my family" and that he had "informed Celta at each step."
In a separate statement, his personal management team said:"There are no problems here. All of Fedor’s actions were agreed with Celta. Regarding sanctions, we agreed them [with Celta] in the event that the player returns to Spain late."
Smolov has frequently made the headlines away from the sports pages in his homeland, having previously been married to Miss Russia Victoria Lopyreva.