The recent sniping between the NFL and members of the Players Association seems civilized in light of a shocking story out of Moscow today. Soccer player Nikola Nikezic, who played for Kuban Krasnodar in the Russian Primier-Liga, claims he was beaten into terminating his own contract, and, in the wake of Nikezic's claims, another player has come out with a similar story.
In a letter to UEFA and FIFA, Nikezic claims he was delivered a 20-minute beating March 7 at the club's headquarters in southern Russia. In an accompanying video he said the men were armed with guns and threatened to cripple him if he didn't sign his own termination papers.
According to the 29-year-old from Montenegro, when the team told him he was no longer wanted, he reminded them that his contract still had a year remaining. Their response? "A powerful blow to the liver."
Nikezic says club trainer Nikolai Khlistunov warned him before the beating took place that he should sign the termination, and that "failure to do so could result in [Nikezic] not being able to leave Krasnodar or to return to Montenegro disabled."
After he relented and signed the papers, Nikezic claims the men threatened him once again, saying "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."
According to the Championat.ru Web site, the club's sporting director Sergei Doronchenko has called Nikezic's story "wild" and accused his former player of extortion.
"It's clear that this football player and his acquaintances just want money from Kuban," Doronchenko said. "We are shocked by such news...It's pure idiocy."
A copy of Nikezic's letter was posted to the Web site of the union of Russian soccer players and coaches, and now another former Kuban player has come out with a frighteningly similar tale. According to a story on FIFPro.org, 26-year-old Sreten Sretenovic was also bullied into signing away his own contract.
Says Sretenovic, "I had a valid contract with FC Kuban which had one more year to run, however FC Kuban wanted me to terminate the contract."
The defender, who signed with Kuban in 2009, claims that Doronchenko and two unknown "strong built" men threatened him into signing the papers this past January.
"I signed the contract out of fear, and did not tell anyone as I had already been threatened on several occasions beforehand by various club members," Sretenovic said. "Having heard of what happened to a fellow colleague of mine, Nikola Nkezic, and realizing I am not alone, I have decided to come forward with the issue and ask for assistance."
The Russian Football Union, which oversees both the Premier-Liga and the Russian national team, has not commented on the news. In December, the Union was selected to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.