Leonid Slutsky, who was formerly the manager of Hull City, told Reuters he was bowing out from the World Cup because he is leaving on Thursday to start training with Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem where is now head coach.
However, his resignation comes only four days after during a commentary on Germany’s World Cup match against Mexico, Mr Slutsky mentioned the taboo name of Alexei Navalny, Russian opposition leader who has been repeatedly jailed for organising anti-Kremlin protests.
During the match, a co-commentator with Slutsky referred to “pile-on” or “high-pressure” football, using an adjective which is similar to Navalny’s surname.
Mr Slutsky quickly shot back: ”Navalny plays football?”
The sentence prompted moments of silence, after which he added: “That would be interesting to see.”
President Putin does not mention Mr Navalny’s name in public, and it has been claimed officials and state television anchors on state-run channels are also forbidden to name the anti-corruption campaigner.
Mr Navalny responded to the mention of his name on TV and seized the opportunity to mock the Kremlin on Twitter.
He wrote: “The moment when censorship came down and I turned up on Channel One.
Another Channel One commentator Vasily Utkin also appeared to be fired from World Cup coverage soon after he posted online about Mr Navalny.
Informed sources claimed he was axed under pressure from the Kremlin.
He said: “What nonsense.
”I’m leaving the country, I’m going to be training the Arnhem team starting tomorrow.”
Mr Slutsky’s demise sparked a social media turmoil in which people are blaming censorship for his resignation.