We’ve seen plenty of broadcasters going after officials, and we’ve even seen some broadcasters leave the booth during a game, but the combination of both is pretty unique. That’s what Vladimir Nikolsky did this weekend, though, protesting a referee’s calls during the Russian first division match of Torpedo Vladimir and Tekstilshchik Ivanovo and eventually storming out and leaving dead air for the second half.
Here’s a clip: Nikolsky’s criticisms start around 0:30, and he leaves around the 2:00 mark.
As you can see in the clip, which begins in the 65th minute of the second half with the score level at 1, Nikolsky first gets incensed when Ivanovo goalkeeper Alexei Smirnov knocks down an opponent and the referee awards a free kick outside the box to Vladimir rather than a penalty (0:30).
After that, it looks like another Ivanovo defender gets his hands on the ball off the free kick in the box, which should be another penalty (around 1:30), but the referee again ignores it, leading to Nikolsky continuing his rant and then walking out. Alistair Coleman and James Vick of the BBC have more details on what happened here:
After a two-minute-long rant, during which Mr Nikolsky repeatedly called the official a “disgrace to Russian football”, he got up and walked out, saying: “Watch the football without a commentator.”
The match itself ended in a 1-1 draw.
Speaking to Russian broadcaster RT after the game, Mr Nikolsky said he didn’t regret his actions. “I become emotional when I see that our team is being hurt,” he said.
He added that he was proud of the fact that during his two-minute rant, he managed not to swear, and the club hasn’t asked him to apologise.
He works for Torpedo as part of local league rules, which say that teams must provide the broadcast services of their matches. This means that TV companies don’t have to travel thousands of miles across Russian territory, and has been an arrangement which has led to passionate reporting.
His actions have received the backing of the team’s fan club, with its president Valery Puzanov telling RT: “He is not just an employee of the club, but a fan like me. If Nikolsky is punished, the club and the fans will support him. Nikolsky did everything right.”
Some homerism is to be expected under that setup, but Nikolsky still goes rather further than you’d expect from most North American broadcasters. But he certainly got his point across by leaving the booth and letting the last 25 minutes air without commentary. And it seems his boss is a fan of his approach.