Despite the loss of the second team with six positive coronavirus tests before the match, the game between FC Sochi and FC Rostov continued. Those positive tests should have forced Rostov’s entire senior team, according to the club statement, into its 10-1 defeat.
Prior to the match at Fisch Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Rostov challenged for the UEFA Champions League position and was embroiled in a war in Sochi.
Rostov asked Sochi to postpone the match, but the team refused, so the young players aged 16-19 were forced to stand.
17-year-old Roman Romanov scored in the first minute, becoming the youngest scorer in club history. He is the third-youngest in Russian Premier League history.
However, Sochi led 4-1 at half-time, and scored another six goals in the second half.
“The score is pretty upsetting, though. We want you to be on the bright side!” Rostov writes that 17-year-old goalkeeper Denis Popov was named man of the match, including a penalty after saving the league record 15 saves.
“We know you will agree that our players fight for every inch of the pitch – everyone showed a fantastic character and attitude today!” Rostov wrote in a message to fans.
Before the game, Sochi received widespread criticism after posting a controversial post on his official Instagram account on Friday.
“The whole country is rooted for schoolchildren! Today we are all schoolchildren. Today we play football. The playing field is flat. The ball is rounded.
“P.S. cfcrostov. It’s just a joke for the f ** k, and it’s on our conscience.”
Sochi later dismissed the post, but was criticized for refusing to change the game and treating its younger opponents.
Russian sports journalist Vasily Utkin said the match was a real scandal.
“All of Europe is laughing at us,” he said in a video posted on his personal YouTube channel.
Utkin said the match would work against league interests.
FC Dynamo Moscow former coach and former player Sergei Silkin has also criticized Sochi.
“What I saw in the Sochi-Rostov match was a joke. The championship should be played in fight-ready squads,” he told state news agency RIA Novosti.
“Yes, the situation is very complicated and unusual, but leaders need to get out of it differently.”
Silkin called on league officials to make sure such incidents did not happen again.
However, Sochi owner Boris Rothenberg, a childhood friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, defended his club’s actions.
The clubs have agreed not to reorganize the matches due to time constraints, and any club in Sochi will play the game, Rottenberg told Toss News, adding that his team has played professionally.
“We’re sorry for the young guys. They don’t understand this, because when you fight a strong opponent, the more he tries to defeat you, the more chances you have of progress.”
This is the first match for teams after a game break due to the coronavirus, and there are nine games remaining this season.
A massive defeat means Rostov is now 15 points behind league leader Zenit St. Petersburg. The top three teams are in the Champions League.
Sochi is effectively a feeder team for Putin’s own team, Zenit.
Sports reporter Utkin talked about a long-standing friendship between Putin and Rothenburg in his video, and this connection was also discussed by Soviet-born American sports journalist Slava Malamud, a Twitter thread about the game and the circumstances surrounding it.
Rothenberg’s claim that the Sochi game could not be delayed by the postponement of the FC Krasnodar game against Dynami Moscow is also in doubt.
After Dynamo Squad entered custody following positive coronavirus tests, Krasnoder and league officials agreed to postpone until July 19, according to a league statement published Sunday.
Russia is one of the countries most affected by the pandemic – the United States and Brazil lag behind only in the Covid-19 case numbers. It has reported more than 590,000 infections and more than 8,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
CNN’s Nathan Hodge and Mary Illushina contributed to this report.