Zidane says he won't travel to Chechnya
Zinedine Zidane is denying reports that he will travel to Chechnya next month to attend the opening of a new stadium.
Zidane said Friday he has not been invited to the May 9 ceremony scheduled in the capital Grozny and that he would not have been available anyway because of his duties at Real Madrid.
Zidane reacted angrily after Chechnya's Sports Minister Haidar Alkhanov was quoted by Russian media as saying the former France great had accepted an invitation to participate in the celebrations.
''It's pretty annoying to see organizers - and it's happening more and more often - telling the press that I will be attending their events while in most of the cases this is not true,'' Zidane said on his website. ''It's simply misleading people and I can't stand this.''
Zidane, who played five seasons for Madrid, is now working as a special adviser for the club, forming a link between the squad and club president Florentino Perez. He won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship with France.
Alkhnaov also said he was trying to convince UEFA president Michel Platini to attend the opening of the stadium.
Last month, Chechnya's leader Ramzan Kadyrov organized a friendly match in Grozny between a local squad and Brazilian football legends including Bebeto and Romario.
Kadyrov has also brought in former Netherlands star Ruud Gullit to take over as coach of the Grozny local club.
Kadyrov has ruled Chechnya with an iron hand since his father was killed in a bomb blast in May 2004. He has been strongly backed by Vladimir Putin, now Russia's prime minister after serving as president in 2000-2008.
Kadyrov's feared security forces have been accused by rights groups of arbitrary arrests, torture and killings.