A pay dispute at Russian champion football club Zenit St. Petersburg took an unusual turn Sunday when boxing champion turned politician Nikolai Valuev took to Twitter to criticize his hometown team.
Russia national team captain Igor Denisov has been sent to train with Zenit’s youth players after the club said he refused to play until given a pay rise.
Valuev said the rift was the result of Zenit being too generous to its players.
“The Zenit management is guilty of overfeeding the players,” Valuev said.
“As a consequence - a walkout by people who have lost touch with reality. Football’s suffering, fans.”
Striker Alexander Kerzhakov, another star of the national team, has been sent to the reserves along with Denisov for unspecified “inappropriate behavior”, a team spokesman told R-Sport on Sunday.
St. Petersburg-born Valuev moved into politics last year as a member of parliament for the ruling United Russia party, representing a coal-mining area of Siberia.
He has not fought since losing his WBA heavyweight belt to David Haye on points in 2009.