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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Man Sentenced to 18 Months for Death Threats to FIFA Ref

A man was handed an 18-month suspended sentence on Monday for threatening to kill a referee in a Russian Premier League match last season.

A Moscow court handed the sentence to 51-year-old Vadim Grebenkin after he was found to have made threatening calls to FIFA referee Valentin Ivanov and his family on the eve of the decisive derby between Spartak and Lokomotiv in November.

"This guy [Grebenkin] is only a small fish," Russian football chief Vitaly Mutko told reporters last week.

"The police are looking for his accomplice who actually masterminded the whole thing. We have information that the person has left the country and is hiding overseas."

Spartak held Lokomotiv 1-1 in the last game of the season to finish second and qualify for the Champions League. Lokomotiv had to settle for third and a place in the UEFA Cup.

Ivanov, Russia's top referee, said at the time that he had received death threats but decided against pulling out of the match.

"I said to myself: Either I do this match or I will simply retire," Ivanov, one of the candidates to officiate at the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany, said then. "And I decided that I'm not ready to call it quits just yet."