Jailed Russian soccer player Mamaev nets 7 goals behind bars
MOSCOW (AP) — Pavel Mamaev probably never expected his highest-scoring game this season to be behind bars.
The Russia national soccer team player, in custody awaiting trial over alleged assaults, scored seven goals in a six-a-side game Thursday to mark Valentine’s Day at a pre-trial detention facility in Moscow.
Playing on a snowy, fenced-off exercise yard against fellow detainees, Mamaev wore No. 17, the same number he usually wears for Russian league club Krasnodar. To even the odds for the other players, Mamaev played one half for each team.
Mamaev and Russia teammate Alexander Kokorin were detained in October after being involved in brawls in Moscow and are awaiting trial on assault-related charges.
“Unforgettable feelings. After these months I’m happy that a match like this took place,” Mamaev told Russian newspaper Sport Express. “I dedicate it to my wife.”
Kokorin didn’t play in Thursday’s game following reports he has a knee injury.
Even before the trial of the players begins, the case has gripped Russia across several contentious hearings.
Mamaev and Kokorin, who plays for Zenit St. Petersburg, are two of Russia’s most recognized players, though neither played at last year’s World Cup. Mamaev made 15 appearances for the national team from 2010-16, when he was dropped amid public anger at video footage showing him and Kokorin partying at a Monaco nightclub shortly after their team was eliminated from the European Championship.
Mamaev also thanked the Russian prison service, for whom the game was a chance to show off a lighter side of one of the country’s most feared jails. The Butyrka jail was built in the 18th century under the Russian czars, who used it to detain Cossack rebels and would-be socialist revolutionaries. In the Soviet era it held some renowned dissidents and victims of the 1930s purges.