‘He is a fascist’: Spanish club ‘abandons signing’ of ex-Ukraine striker after livid fans claim he backs ‘Nazi paramilitary group’
Alcorcon, based in Madrid's south-western suburbs, could do with a targetman after finishing 17th in the Segunda last season, narrowly avoiding relegation to Spain's third tier.
Their search in the summer transfer window ahead of the upcoming campaign led them to Roman Zozulya, and the deal seemed done with the 31-year-old agreeing a free transfer after four years at Albacete.
Some fans, though – in particular, two supporter clubs known as penas in Spain – had other ideas amid the trending of a #ZozulyaNotWelcome hashtag.
"We consider it an error for Alcorcon to sign a player who has published photos with Nazi numerology and supporting ultra and fascist formations in his country, incompatible with the values of tolerance and respect promoted by sport," wrote La Previa, in reference to when Zozulya was photographed in a number 18 basketball jersey and pointing to a scoreboard that showed a 14-88 tally.
"The player, Roman Zozulya, is not just a patriot; he is a fascist who supports the Azov Battalion – a Ukrainian Nazi paramilitary group.
"This individual has no place in our club or in our city. His ideology clashes head-on with our values."
[COMUNICADO]Ante los rumores que sitúan al jugador Roman Zozulya en la órbita de la Agrupación Deportiva Alcorcón, mostramos públicamente nuestra oposición a su fichaje.El fascismo, en cualquiera de sus formas, no tiene cabida en nuestra ciudad.¡#ZozulyaNotWelcome! pic.twitter.com/9YffI9ogjC— SECCION PETAKA (@SeccionPetaka) July 25, 2021
The comments have reportedly forced Alcorcon to paralyze the potential move and "study the situation well before making a final decision", according to local media.
This is not the first time that fan power has apparently taken hold to stop Zozulya switch allegiances.
In February 2017, after he joined them on loan from Real Betis on the last day of that year's January transfer window, famously left-wing club Rayo Vallecano canceled Zozulya's contract just a day later.
Refusing to accept his open letter protesting he was not a Nazi, fans attended Zozulya's first training session brandishing a banner that insisted their Vallecas ground was "not a place for Nazis".
Except they're barking up the wrong tree here - Zozulya isn't a fascist, has explained this, as have others who understand the significance of his tattoo and his support for his home country. Bizarre why this line is still being pushed against him.— Andrew Flint (@AndrewMijFlint) July 26, 2021
When Rayo played Albacete in December 2019, the match was suspended after the player was bombarded by cries of "f*cking Nazi", which was the first time in the history of Spanish football that a match had to be postponed due to offensive chants.
Zozulya has denied his links to extremist ideology.
"They accuse me of being a fascist for supporting the Ukrainian army against pro-Russian terrorists. But I am not," he remarked three years ago.
Exactly - some slightly odd attempts to paint him as a fascist. Buffon wanted 88 on his shirt, used a Fascist phrase on his shirt, ppl accused him of Nazi tendencies, but - crucially - accepted his explanations, but not Ukrainian player Zozulya's? Hmm.— Andrew Flint (@AndrewMijFlint) July 26, 2021
In early 2020, he also addressed the matchday row, and explained to Ukrainian outlet Football Hub: "When it all started, I was [called] a fascist.
"Then they started to check my Facebook and I was [called] a Nazi. Recently they called me a racist and today, I didn’t listen but I was told they shouted ‘communist’ at me. People don’t make any sense.
"Soon they will say that I am a f**. ‘M*ricon’ is gay in Spanish. It wouldn’t surprise me."
Some observers made accusations of double standards, pointing to reports of legendary goalkeeper Gigi Buffon being forgiven for using a number 88 jersey after apologizing in 2000. Zozulya's explanation, it seems, is yet to be accepted.Also on rt.com ‘Political s***housery’: Football fans deep-clean stadium after leaders of Spain’s far-right Vox party turn up to match (VIDEO)