The initiative launched earlier this month and widely promoted through the hashtag #CSKAFansAgainstRacism called on UEFA not to sanction the club just before the European governing body decided on incidents at the Champions League match between AS Roma and CSKA Moskva (17 September).
Under the threat of seeing their club excluded or relegated from European footballs top competition, the fans group began a media campaign of videos and photos, mostly of children holding #CSKAFansAgainstRacism messages, to influence fellow fans to speak out against racism.
Recurrent racism displays
On the 3 October, UEFA ordered the Muscovite club to play their next three UEFA competition home matches behind closed doors. The club was also fined €200,000 and banned from selling tickets for the next three away games in the Champions League.
According to UEFA disciplinary regulations, which came into force in May 2013, a three-step sanctioning approach for racism and other disciplinary offences, comprises partial stadium closures, full stadium closures, point deductions or the relegation from competitions for reoffenders.
The fine came after the club were also sanctioned in October and December 2013 for racism at the Champions League matches against Manchester City and Viktoria Plzen.
In recent years, the former Russian army club has been often associated with racist and other intolerant actions, mostly prompted by the far-right leaning of ultras groups.
The group have joined the Football People weeks and told Fare of its intentions to take over CSKA terraces in the near future.
The organisers describe themselves as a grassroots movement, with the aim of improving the club’s image and promoting a welcoming environment inside their stadium and among fans.
There has however also been some scepticism at the timing and campaign structure.
Racism in Russian football
Russian football is facing multiple challenges. Over the past two weeks, a number of incidents in the Russian Premier League saw FC Zenit’s Brazilian star Hulk and Dynamo Moscow defender Christopher Samba racially abused by supporters.
The abuse lead to domestic action by the Russian FA for Spartak Moscow, whose fans abused Hulk, and Torpedo Moscow after Christopher Samba refused to play in the second half of the match against Dinamo Moscow for fans’ racism.
As part of the preparation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Fare held a roundtable in Saint Petersburg on the 10 October to address the problems of racism and discrimination on a national scale and to define approaches to use football as a tool to foster inclusion.
The event brought together state and football authorities including FC Zenit representatives.
Read more on CSKA Against Racism.