Ukrainian striker Roman Zozulya has returned to Real Betis after a 15-hour loan spell with Rayo Vallecano after fans protested at his far-right politics.
Rayo’s fans have a strong tradition with left-wing politics and a group of the club’s fans went to the team’s training session on Wednesday morning with a banner proclaiming "Vallecas (their Madrid suburb) is not a place for Nazis, you neither (unpopular club president Raul Martin Presa. Get out!"
Upon signing for the struggling Segunda outfit on Tuesday night, the 27-year-old denied he had any sympathies to far-right politics or Ukrainian paramilitaries in an open letter to the club’s fans, but this failed to stop many of the club’s fans share photos apparently contradicting this view, while anti-nazi graffiti sprung up around the victory.
“People come before everything else and so we will look after Zozulya, we want him to be calm. He will come back to Seville for now and we’ll have a look at what our legal team can do,” Betis sporting director Miguel Torrecilla said on Wednesday.
“We were informed that he was having problems with radical groups. We have spoken to Rayo and we agreed that for the benefit of our player, who is an asset, he should return to Seville.
“The player has been saddened by this because he did not expect it.”
Los Verdiblancos then released a statement on Thursday that the player had returned to the club ‘for his own safety’ and praised the striker’s ‘exemplary behaviour’ in ‘difficult circumstances’.
Zozulya will be be unable to play for the remainder of the season as his registration remains with the Segunda side, and due to that being signed – and having played for Dnipro this season – ensures he can no longer play for a club other than Rayo.