Schalke chairman draws criticism over Kremlin trip

BERLIN (AP) Schalke’s chairman is drawing criticism from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party for suggesting that his team, sponsored by Russian energy giant Gazprom, would accept an invitation to Moscow from President Vladimir Putin.

Schalke’s Clemens Toennies told business newspaper Handelsblatt Wednesday the Bundesliga team ”would like to see the Kremlin and is interested in Moscow, and the Russian president is interested in Schalke and has invited us.” He said now isn’t the time to visit but ”politics is not our playing field.”

Germany’s government is at odds with Moscow over Russia’s actions in Ukraine. The general secretary of Merkel’s party, Peter Tauber, told Thursday’s edition of the Bild daily: ”Accepting an invitation to the Kremlin in the current situation and letting yourself be exploited like that doesn’t really show good intuition.”