2006 was a scandalous year for Russian football. Former Spartak striker Alexander Shirko (then playing with the captain’s armband in Shinnik) got into a fight with fans who insulted him from the stands. Dynamo goalkeeper Sergei Ovchinnikov with a mother reminded referee Zakharov who the captain was in the team, he said about the removal, and after the match he threatened to hit the journalist in the forehead. And in Spartak, a conflict broke out with the participation of coach Alexander Starkov and Dmitry Alenichev, who was sitting in reserve. Back in that year, the match between CSKA and Zenit took place, on which the refereeing team of Vladimir Pettai worked.




“I’m the team captain, *****!” The history of the legendary phrase Ovchinnikov

CSKA rushed to the championship and was mired in scandals. Zenit spent the first season under the guidance of Advocaat

CSKA won the league title a year before the legendary match, and a little earlier raised the trophy for winning the UEFA Cup. In 2006, the army team again rushed to the gold medals in the Russian championship, but the tournament itself was accompanied by a large number of refereeing scandals, including with the participation of the capital club. Foreign brigades of referees worked at both derbies with Spartak. At that time it was considered a progressive step, but it was not possible to avoid conflicts.

In the first round, Italian Massimo De Santis sent off CSKA goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, fixing the handball outside the penalty area. The goalkeeper himself after the match said that he touched the ball with the left side of his chest: “I have no idea why I was sent off! I did not touch the ball with my hand, I played with the left side of my chest. Apparently, the judge just took it into his head to do it. In general, I think that the Russian referee would have judged a hundred times better. I don’t see the point in inviting foreign judges just to have them work so disgustingly.”

Frenchman Laurent Duhamel worked at the second round match. This time, after the game, the head coach of the army team, Valery Gazzaev, was on fire: “If the teams showed a performance, then the referee looked like a real clown. Apparently, this arbitrator was specially sent out from abroad to amuse Russia. Our judges are angels compared to him.” CSKA was dissatisfied with the fact that the referee did not show the second yellow card to Spartak defender Martin Shtrantsl.

Match “Zenith” with CSKA

Photo: fc-zenit.ru

And there was also a blatant mistake by referee Alexei Tyumin in the match between CSKA and Lucha-Energy. Then, for some unknown reason, he did not remove Akinfeev for frank play with his hands outside the penalty area. Even the goalkeeper himself admitted after the match that he had broken the rules. Tyumin did not send off the CSKA goalkeeper, but showed a red card to Luch forward Alexander Tikhonovetsky, who was arguing furiously with the referee.

At the end of October, a match took place, because of which the journalist Vasily Utkin and the president of CSKA Evgeny Giner were later killed. The army team beat Rostov on the road (2:1), and Utkin wrote an article a few days later and openly stated that he considered the game to be negotiable. In his opinion, the defenders of Rostov regularly left several free CSKA players in their penalty area during corners. As a result, the case came to a lawsuit that dragged on for several months. The arbitration court ordered Utkin to write a refutation, but the appeal court overturned the original decision and denied CSKA’s claim.

Vasily Utkin

Vasily Utkin

Photo: Alexander Safonov, “Championship”

Zenit, at the time of the match with the army team, was already training under the guidance of Dick Advocaat. The Dutch specialist replaced Vlastimil Petrzhela as head coach in the summer. Zenit was seven points behind CSKA before the November match. The misfires of the Gazzaev team were very much expected by Spartak, which was four points behind the army team. By the way, a few days before the match with Zenit, CSKA played the same match with Arsenal (0:0) in the Champions League. In football circles, there was even a joke that Akinfeev sold his soul to the god of goalkeepers that evening. It was after this match that Igor’s long series of goals conceded in the Champions League began, which lasted more than 10 years.



The lawyer led the Iraqi national team.  In May, he retired for the seventh time
The lawyer led the Iraqi national team. In May, he retired for the seventh time

Pettai’s team made four mistakes. Mistakenly assigned a penalty and deprived Zenit of two goals

The Board of Football Referees appointed Vladimir Pettai for the game CSKA – Zenit. One of his assistants was Vladislav Khupavko (let’s remember this last name), who had previously played only 13 matches in the RPL. This linesman reminded of himself already in the 10th minute of the match. Andrey Arshavin went one on one with Akinfeev and easily threw the goalkeeper, but Khupavko raised his flag and recorded an offside position. On replay of the video that the referee made a mistake. Surprisingly, the Zenit players did not dispute the referee’s decision, only Advocaat rushed to the edge of the field.

Five minutes later, Wagner Love quarreled with Fernando Ricksen. The Brazilian prevented the Dutchman from quickly playing a free kick, and he pushed the attacker away. Wagner prescribed Ricksen a blow to the jaw, but saw only a yellow card in front of him. Later, Pettai admitted that he missed this moment, and the side said that Wagner simply pushed the opponent away with both hands.

Fernando Ricksen

Fernando Ricksen

Photo: Alexander Safonov, “Championship”

In the 56th minute, Pettai set a penalty against CSKA, fixing Kim Dong-jin’s foul on Wagner. But something else is much more important here. Midfielder Dudu, who dropped the ball on his compatriot, was offside at the time of the transfer from a free kick (it all started with him). Referee Khupavko did not raise the flag, although this episode was much more difficult than with the canceled goal of Zenit. As a result, Carvalho converted a penalty, and this goal was the only one in the match.

Almost immediately after that, the referee canceled Arshavin’s goal again, recording an imaginary offside position. At the end of the match, the Zenit players demanded a penalty because they believed that Ivan Taranov had played with his hand. Pettai ignored the requests of the guests and showed that the ball hit the solar plexus.

Zenit asked for a replay of the match. Giner replied

Naturally, after the match it flared up. Here is how the president of Zenit Sergey Fursenko commented on the work of the judges:

Sergey Fursenko

Sergey Fursenko

ex-president of Zenith

“Unfortunately, the quality of refereeing spoiled the whole impression – and not only in terms of the result for Zenit. The entertainment of the match also suffered. In my opinion, the refereeing was biased and extremely unqualified. Fears such biased refereeing can not cause. Fears, first of all, for the fate of Russian football as a whole.

Zenit filed a protest with the RFU against the decisions of the arbitrators on five counts. They admitted that Pettai’s team made mistakes in four episodes (Taranov did not have a handball). Zenit even applied for a replay of the match, which resulted in a long letter from Giner. “The regulations do not provide for any possibility of a replay in such cases,” said the president of CSKA. – That is, in fact, you are proposing to violate the fundamental norms of the regulatory documents of the RFU. The replay of the specified match will entail the creation of an extremely dangerous precedent and will cause righteous indignation on the part of many other participants in the championship who are dissatisfied with the quality of refereeing in a particular match. In this regard, I would like to wish the management of FC Zenit to continue to consider disputable situations in a more balanced and comprehensive manner and thereby not provoke the football community and not escalate the already difficult relationship between fans.

Evgeny Giner

Evgeny Giner

Photo: Alexander Safonov, “Championship”

Naturally, there was no replay. Deputies of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg appealed to the country’s Prosecutor General in order to conduct an anti-corruption check following the results of the game. This didn’t happen either.
“You see what is happening in Russian football! We need to write about it!” shouted Cornelius Pot, Advocate’s assistant, after the match.

And here is what ex-Zenith defender Eric Hagen said to the Norwegian press a few years later: “At the beginning of the match, the referee recorded an offside position, although our player was five meters further from the goal than the CSKA player. After that, we understood everything. And then the referee gave a penalty, although no one touched the opponent. And CSKA won the match, and then the title.”

Arshavin, who came to the editorial office of the Championship in 2021, also recalled the legendary match: “Can I name the game where the judges beat us? In the major leagues – the match between CSKA and Zenit, where Pettai did everything that was possible and impossible. CSKA eventually won the championship title a round before the end of the tournament, and Zenit finished fourth in the table at the end of the season.



“The bank wanted 100 million.  It was my fake signature.
“The bank wanted 100 million. It was my fake signature.” Frank Arshavin

And here is what later the head coach of CSKA Valery Gazzaev said about the scandalous match: “I don’t know why such hysteria was raised around this meeting. It is better to talk about football, about playing qualities, than to blame the judges. If you take the match as a whole, Zenit had practically no chances. But the team succeeded in a rough game. Unfortunately, Ignashevich was seriously injured, who will definitely miss the next match in Samara, the participation in the next meeting between Olic and Wagner is a big question. I don’t know, maybe Zenit had such an installation? It is necessary to teach the wards to play football, and not to such things.

How did the fate of the referees of the match. One of them died in a plane crash

Chief referee Vladimir Pettai was temporarily suspended from work at matches, and his assistants were suspended for life. “I was not completely ready for the game,” Pettai recalled in an interview with Sports.ru. – My main mistake is that I lost control of the ball. The referee must always see the ball, this is a common truth. Of course, after the match is not easy. Firstly, all that situation in the newspapers, on television. I thought about ending my career, it was hard. However, we managed to return. Although only one god can see what it cost. Relatives were worried, children who at school were almost poked with their noses. But it’s okay, we survived.”

The referee spent a year and a half in the lower leagues, and returned to the RPL in 2008. Pettai died three years later – he was on board the plane en route from Vladikavkaz to Petrozavodsk. The plane crash occurred while landing at the airport of the capital of Karelia.

Vladimir Pettai

Vladimir Pettai

Photo: Alexander Safonov, “Championship”

As for linesman Khupavko, who made a couple of gross mistakes, he continued to work in futsal. He was even attracted to European Cup matches. Later he became chairman of the Chelyabinsk regional organization Free League.

Vadim Braschin, Pettai’s second assistant, moved to FC Ryazan at the end of his refereeing career. He worked as a sports director and head of the team, after which he was approved as the director of the club. A few years after the scandalous match, he told his colleagues from Sport24 that he considered the punishment in the form of a life suspension undeserved.

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