26.06.2024

Russian Football Team Needs ‘Spiritual Training,’ Orthodox Bishop Says

Russia’s national football team needs divine intervention to succeed on the pitch, a senior Russian Orthodox Church bishop said Friday after the squad’s unceremonious exit from the Euro 2020 championship.

The team and its management came under fire after it ranked last in its group and failed to qualify for the quarter-finals, which kick off later Friday in cities including coronavirus-plagued St. Petersburg. Russia’s disappointing loss came as the country hoped to repeat its fairytale run to the quarter-finals at the 2018 FIFA World Cup that it hosted.

Metropolitan bishop Mitrofan, who oversees the Church’s commission on physical culture and sport, told state media that Russia’s football team “lacks spiritual training.”

“Of course a solution to this problem is overdue and our national team needs confessors to take care of our lads,” he told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.

“In my view, our team lacks spiritual training: no fighting spirit, spiritually weak and unmotivated.”

Metropolitan Mitrofan also blamed the squad’s notoriously temperamental head coach Stanislav Cherchessov and the players’ foul mouths for their “spiritual ruin.”

“Coaches mainly motivate on the field with the help of filthy speech and swearing, which we all see just by reading lips, looking at the coaches and what our respected players say while they’re running around,” he said.

Captain Artyom Dzyuba told reporters that “we pooped our pants” while commenting on his team’s group-stage loss last week. Dzyuba was previously embroiled in a scandal last fall when a leaked video appearing to show him masturbating on camera went viral.

The Russian Orthodox Church already maintains an active presence in the military and other non-religious fields as critics accuse President Vladimir Putin of blurring the lines between the Church and secular state to consolidate his power.

Russian Freediver Claims New Record in Icy Lake Baikal Plunge

Russian freediver Alexei Molchanov claimed to have set a new Guinness World Record on Tuesday after plunging 80 meters in the icy waters of Lake Baikal in Siberia.

Clad in blue diving gear, Molchanov dropped into a hole in the Baikal ice before coming back up smiling, winking and forming the OK sign with his hand, video footage showed.

His team claimed it was the deepest ever freedive under ice.

«I would like to dedicate this new record to this amazing place where we are now. Baikal is a unique natural phenomenon and a living organism, which is important to preserve for future generations,» the 34-year-old freediver said in a statement.

Igor Kobzev, governor of the Siberian region of Irkutsk where part of Lake Baikal is located, said on Instagram that the water was a chilly 3 degrees Celsius.

«With his dives, Alexei draws attention to environmental issues and the purity of water. What he’s doing deserves respect,» the governor wrote.

Lake Baikal, the largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world, has been suffering from increased algae growth, a boom in tourism, and the effects of forest fires in the surrounding wilderness for many years.

Russian swimmers have previously competed in icy swims across the lake’s frigid waters to draw attention to the ecological threats it faces.

Molchanov, a 14-time world champion freediver, claims to now hold 20 world records.

His mother Natalia Molchanova was also a freediver and during her career was described as possibly the world’s greatest.

She went missing during a private lesson off the coast of Spain in August 2015 and was presumed dead a few days later.

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