Fan protesting works as Rayo force out player following ideology controversy.

Rayo Vallecano made headlines this week by signing Ukrainian Roman Zozulya from Real Betis. Signing a player on loan is not usually newsworthy, but Rayo’s fans are notoriously left-wing and were outraged with the signing of the former Dnipro striker due to his ties with the far-right in his native Ukraine.

His arrival at parent club Betis also caused a stir as Zozulya has made no secret of his support for his national army and has been photographed several times in paramilitary clothing. He denied any links to far-right ideologies in an open letter to Rayo’s fans, but their supporters’ group ADRV claimed that the club’s decision to sign Zozulya was “ridiculous” and an “affront to our history and values.”

ADRV had staged various protests against the signing of the Ukrainian international before, during and after his first training session with the club. Fans brandished banners alluding to the player’s alleged neo-Nazi ideology and confronted him and his agent at the club’s offices.

And with that, fan power has won the day.

Real Betis sporting director Miguel Torrecilla has confirmed that Zozulya has returned to the club following the backlash.

“He will come back to Seville for now,” Torrecilla said following the collapse of the loan deal. “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.”

 

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)