World Cup 2018 and racism: How will FIFA police discrimination in Russia?
The 2018 World Cup in Russia begins in less than a week and, before a ball has even been kicked, the issue of racism and how FIFA will act in the event of players being subjected to discriminatory chants, has been raised.
England defender Danny Rose has spoken about the prospect of he and his teammates walking off the pitch in the event of players being targeted — a scenario played down by England manager Gareth Southgate — while FIFA president Gianni Infantino has insisted that plans are in place to deal with any outbreak of racism during the tournament.
Russian football has had to fight long and hard to clean up its reputation in terms of racism in football, so how prepared is the country and FIFA ahead of the World Cup?
Here are the key questions.
Q: What is the background to the concerns about discriminatory chanting in Russia?
A: There have been several recent incidents in Russia during which black players were subjected to abusive chants and banners.
Yaya Toure experienced racial abuse while playing for Manchester City against CSKA Moscow in October 2013, while the likes of Samuel Eto’o, Roberto Carlos, Christopher Samba and Peter Odemwingie also reported similar incidents while playing for Russian clubs.
In Sept 2016, the Fare network, which monitors racist incidents for UEFA, noted that a banana was thrown onto the pitch in the eighth minute of a Champions League tie in Russia between FC Rostov and PSV Eindhoven and remained there for a further 15 minutes before being removed.
Q: Has Russia taken steps to eradicate the problem?
A: The Russian Football Union (RFU) has a commissioner on racism in football and Vitaly Mutko, the deputy prime minister and former minister for sport, insisted ahead of last year’s Confederations Cup that Russia has a “zero tolerance” approach to racism.
“For us in Russia, it is a challenge and a responsibility,” Mutko said. “And I think that this is a perfect solution. FIFA has no compromises, zero tolerance. As for Russia, the Russian Federation and Russian football have taken similar measures, stricter measures in Russia. This is a problem that is not purely Russian. It exists everywhere in the world and, of course, FIFA is fighting this phenomenon. We will support FIFA and in our joint efforts we will try to conqueror this.”