Russian Football Union sanctions player for reacting to racist abuse09 December 2014

A player of the Russian Premier League side FC Rostov was sanctioned by the Russian football authorities after he responded to racist abuse aimed toward him.

The incident took place at the Russian Premier League fixture between Spartak Moscow and FC Rostov on Thursday 4 December. The home fans directed monkey chants at FV Rostov Guélor Kanga who responded by showing the middle finger to the fans. The Control and Disciplinary Commission of the Russian Football Union, RFU, ruled on Friday to ban Kang for the next three matches in the Russian Premier League and fine him €700.

The perpetrators, Spartak Moscow fans who targeted racist taunts at the Rostov player were not charged for racism because the RFU did not find evidence of racist behaviour of the fans when watching the match recording. Neither the referee not match inspector did not log the racist chants in their match reports. However Spartak Moscow was sanctioned after the hearing for “chanting by fans of insulting expressions” towards the referee of the match.

Banning a player for reacting to racist abuse has become an established practice of the Disciplinary committee of the RFU, while perpetrators of monkey chants or other racist chants are not always persecuted. In September 2014 Dynamo Moscow Christopher Samba asked not to play the second half of the Moscow derby between Dynamo and Torpedo after he was racially abused by a group of Torpedo fans. Samba reacted to racist abuse by showing his middle finger to supporters who made monkey noises toward him. The RFU Disciplinary committee ordered Torpedo to play one game behind closed doors and fined the club €6300 while Christopher Samba was banned for two games for displaying an “unpleasant gesture” towards the fans.

Series of racist incidents in Russia

A series of racist incidents has marred Russian football since the beginning of the season. Earlier in November Zenit Brazilian striker Hulk complained he received racist remarks from the match referee Alexey Matyunin. The incident was not investigated by the RFU for the lack of evidence.  Guélor Kanga’s coach at FC Rostov was himself serving a 5-match ban for racist remarks he made towards the team’s black players only last month.

Among other clubs in Russia who faced charges for racist behaviour of their fans this season were CSKA Moscow who have been punished for racism in the Champions League, while Spartak and Torpedo Moscow have faced racism charges in the Russian Premier League.

FIFA to step up anti-racism efforts in view of World Cup in Russia

FIFA’s Task Force Against Racism and Discrimination met in Zurich earlier on 2 December and announced that it will introduce new measures to fight discrimination in the global game and will train and employ anti-discrimination officers for future competitions.

The Task Force agreed on the importance of using the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia as a platform to raise awareness on the issue and showcase FIFA’s zero-tolerance policy against any form of discrimination.

The Task Force presented a concrete action plan to strengthen monitoring and evidence-finding mechanisms to tackle discriminatory incidents in football under FIFA’s jurisdiction, including the appointment and training of anti-discrimination officers for the forthcoming internationals.