Samsonenko decides to stay with Vardar, says he will “fight all injustices”

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Russian businessman Sergei Samsonenko announced on Friday that he is reversing his decision and will stay in Macedonia, to support the Vardar football and handball clubs. Samsonenko’s decision comes after his stunning success, with Vardar’s male handball team winning the European EHF Champions League and the football team reaching the group stage of the UEFA Europa League for the first time in its history.

Samsonenko said that he is withdrawing from the clubs after negative comments on social media from the Vardar fans, the Komiti, after the team increased ticket prices for Fenerbahce qualifier, which Vardar unexpectedly won. His decision was also attributed to political pressure, with a number of members of the current Government openly attacking him for alleged ties with the VMRO-DPMNE party, while US funded media outlets portrayed him as someone who increases Russian influence in Macedonia. Samsonenko said on Friday that he decided to remain in Macedonia and to fight against injustice.

“A little while ago I made a decision that I will not invest in the three clubs beginning with the next season. The reason was the pile of lies and distortions about me presented in certain media outlets. I tell them that they have no shame or conscience. I have done nothing wrong to this country, I love it as my own. I’ve only done good things to it. This is why I will not leave Vardar. I will stay here forever. I call on everybody to support me and I’m sure we will have many more victories”, said Samsonenko, who only a month ago lifted the EHP Champions League trophy before tens of thousands of Vardar fans in Skopje’s main square, and was later lauded for the wins against Fenerbahce.

Speaking about the unfortunate start for Vardar in the UEFA Europa League, with its 5:0 home defeat to Zenit from St. Petersburg, Samsonenko said that the team deserves to be criticized for its game, but that the players were too eager to win and that cost them. “We had a bad day, the defeat stings, but it is up to us to close our ranks now and to carry on. We will take our lessons from this defeat and move on. That is the real face of this team”, Samsonenko said.

Samsonenko invested in Vardar in 2012, starting with its women’s handball team, and later taking over the men’s team and the beloved football team. The latest pressure Vardar objected to is the tripling of the price to play at the Philip II of Macedon sports arena for the UEFA league games.