Russia captain Artem Dzyuba asks not to be selected amid Ukraine conflict

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Artem Dzyubaone of Russia‘s all-time leading goalscorers, has asked not to be picked for the national team because of the conflict in Ukraine, coach Valery Karpin said in an interview published on Tuesday.

Karpin said he had spoken to the 33-year-old Zenit Saint-Petersburg striker at the weekend about selection for a training camp in Moscow.

Russia has been suspended from international football by UEFA and FIFA over events in Ukraine and kicked out of qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

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“He assured me … he really wants to play for the national team. But now, due to the difficult situation in Ukraine, where he has many relatives, he apologized and asked for family reasons not to call him to this camp,” Karpin said.

The interview was published on the website of the Russian Football Union.

A late call-up to the national team when Russia hosted the World Cup in 2018, Dzyuba became a talismanic figure during the team’s surprise run to the quarterfinals and has since captained the side and equaled Aleksandr Kerzhakov as the country’s record goalscorer.

Since Karpin was appointed last July, Dzyuba has largely fallen out of favor.

A holder of three Russian Premier League winners medals, Dzyuba is no stranger to controversy. He was temporarily suspended from the national team in late 2020 to shield him from negative publicity after the leak of a private, intimate video online.

In early March, he took to Instagram to hit back at Ukrainian footballers who criticized him and other Russian players for remaining silent over events in Ukraine.

In that post, Dzyuba said he was against discrimination based on nationality and that he could not understand why Russian athletes were being made to suffer.

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