Judo Putin disposes of another difficult opponent. (Getty)
After Zenit St. Petersburg captain Igor Denisov demanded more money and publicly voiced his opinion that foreign signings like Hulk and Axel Witsel shouldn't be making "three times as much" as the Russian players on the team, debate has increased over the rising influence of money at the club. And now the local communist party has written an open letter to Russian president/shirtless fisherman Vladimir Putin, asking for his help in eradicating the greed at the club and replacing Italian manager Luciano Spalletti with a "taskmaster" from North Korea. (Seriously -- of all people, they asked Vladimir Putin. That's not satire.)
Zenit are owned by Gazprom, the massive Russian energy company owned by the government. But St. Petersburg native Putin has stated that the club's funding is entirely from Gazprom and not the state -- a distinction that seems more like a technicality than the best explanation.
"We have an explosive situation at Zenit and the whole city of St Petersburg," the St Petersburg branch of the Communists of Russia party wrote in an open letter to Putin, posted on their website (www.kplo.ru). The party is separate from Russia's main Communist Party and its local branch.
"It's obvious, the team is out of control, there are internal squabbles between the players fighting over who gets bigger pay," the letter said. [...]
The communists also lashed out at Spalletti, who has led Zenit to two consecutive Russian league titles since arriving in St Petersburg in December 2009, saying he was used to a lavish lifestyle.
"What Zenit need is a tough taskmaster from the DPRK where the sport is part of a daily struggle," it said in a reference to North Korea.
It seems a bit insulting that they would want to import a North Korean to be manager when the more than capable Putin is always at the ready. If he were manager when Denisov went on his little rant, Denisov would be in jail right now. If the man can lead endangered cranes on their migration route, he can certainly lead a bunch of well-paid footballers.
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