Kremlin chastises Russian football team over champagne party
MOSCOW - Reuters
Footage of the incident, featuring players Alexander Kokorin and Pavel Mamaev, caused public anger after Russian media reported the men drank champagne costing $500 a bottle and that they had spent 250,000 euros in total.
The episode, which showed buckets of champagne being delivered to the players' table to the tune of Russia's national anthem, seemed all the more incongruous because it occurred after Russia was knocked out of the tournament finishing bottom of Group B with just one point from three games.
In the grip of an economic crisis and angered by what they saw as the dismal performance of their overpaid team, some Russians took to social media to vent their spleen, prompting the players' clubs to demote and fine them.
The Kremlin, whose candidates are facing a parliamentary election later this year, said on Wednesday it was not impressed.
" ... Everyone has heard about this extravagance, including the president," Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Vladimir Putin, told a conference call with reporters, ridiculing what he called the players' "excess".
The players say they did not organise the party and that media reports of how much money was spent on champagne were exaggerated.
Peskov said more clarity was needed to reach a final judgment.
"It first needs to be established if this conceited disgrace was paid for by our footballers or by someone else ... If it was done by the soccer players themselves, let God judge them."