Racism in Russia and FIFA’s 3-step plan to tackle it
A string of racist incidents involving Russian football fans has cast a shadow over the 2018 World Cup. But FIFA says it is ready to act.
It was ironically at a ‘friendly’ match between Russia and France in March that racist abuse from Russian supporters reared its ugly head again.
Fans in the Saint Petersburg Stadium made monkey noises and yelled racist chants at black players including N’Golo Kante, Ousmane Dembele and Paul Pogba – all of whom will line up for France at the World Cup in Russia this month.
If they were trying to psych out the opposition, it didn’t work. The visitors won the match 3-1.
FIFA fined Russia 30,000 Swiss Francs (about $39,000), taking into account “the limited number of fans involved”, but it was the third racism case this season at the ground, which will host four World Cup group games and a semi-final.
Russian Premier League club Zenit St.Petersburg was charged twice by Europe’s football authority UEFA over fan racism in Europa League games in December and March. It also counts among the clubs that still has organized far-right groups among its fans.
The national team has also been fined over the racist behaviour of its fans at the last two European Championships. But Russian police have a history of failing to act.
And it’s not just the players who fear such incidents could happen at this month’s World Cup; England defender Danny Rose said last week he had instructed his family not to travel to the tournament over fears of being racially abused.
“My dad’s really upset,” Rose told the London Evening Standard. “He said he may never get a chance again to come and watch me in a World Cup.”