Rayo Vallecano Cancelled A Transfer Because Of A Neo-Nazi Controversy

The fans protested and Rayo Vallecano’s board sent a recent signing back before he even debuted for the club.

Ukrainian international Roman Zozulya was set to move to Madrid and become a much-needed scoring threat for a struggling Rayo Vallecano side. 

Rayo reached a deadline-day loan deal with Real Betis and was hoping to count with Zozulya in its battle against relegation in the Spanish second division. However, instead of a savior’s welcome, Zozulya was received with protests by fans when he arrived in Vallecas.

Now, why would fans of a struggling second division club protest against the arrival of an international-level player?

Well, it was because of stuff like this:

This:

And this:

The problem Rayo fans had with Zozulya had nothing to do with his skills as a soccer player, but rather with his political views. 

Zozulya has been linked to a far-right paramilitary group in Ukraine, which didn’t settle well with the Spanish fans, who rallied banners and protested against the new signing. They claimed that Vallecas was "not a place for Nazis.”

The player’s picture wearing a soccer shirt and a military jacket was supposedly used to recruit new members for the Ukraine National Guard when the Donbass War broke out. 

The protesting got to a point where the club’s board decided it wasn’t worth it to keep the player around, and had to send him back to Betis before even hitting the pitch. 

"There were problems with some of Rayo's supporter groups, and after discussions with everyone concerned, he will return to Seville," Betis’ sporting director Miguel Torrecilla confirmed that the player was returning.

"We have to protect the person here as he is our player and our asset. Going forward, the legal departments of the two clubs will continue the process.

"We have spoken with Roman, and he has been very hurt by all of this. It has really affected him. He didn't expect it and wrote a letter to the Rayo supporters, but it seems that it didn't reach everyone."

Indeed, Zozulya sent a lengthy letter to Rayo’s fan base claiming that his alleged ties to the far-right movement were nothing more than a misunderstanding. 

Unfortunately for the player, the message didn’t seem to appease the fans, and his stay in Madrid was short-lived. What makes matters worse for the player is that now he will be unable to play for the remainder of the season as he has already been registered for three different teams. 

During the first half of Betis’s 2016-17 campaign, Zozulya tallied six appearances but failed to score or assist in any goals.