Ruud Gullit has rejected criticism of his decision to coach Chechnyan club Terek Grozny, whose president, former militia leader Ramzan Kadyrov, also is the Kremlin-backed president of Chechnya.
Gullit's decision surprised some of his countrymen because Kadyrov has been accused of human rights abuses. But Gullit compared his decision to the Dutch national team's opting to compete in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, then ruled by a military dictatorship.
Gullit says in an interview published in Thursday's edition of Dutch daily De Volkskrant he wants to inject a little joy into the lives of the people of Grozny.
The former Netherlands midfielder, the 1987 European player of the year, has coached Chelsea, Newcastle, Feyenoord and the Los Angeles Galaxy.