When Olympique Marseille guested at Zenit St Petersburg in the UEFA Cup on 12 March, three of their black players – Charles Kaboré, André Ayew and Ronald Zubar – were subjected to racist abuse by Zenit fans as they made their way to the touchline to warm up.
“A banana was thrown at us and there were monkey chants”, said Zubar after the game. “These guys in the stands looked right at us and made monkey noises. It made us wish the game had been interrupted so these “fans” could have been thrown out of the ground.”
UEFA launched an investigation a day after the game. “If the investigation produces any findings, the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body will examine the matter at its meeting on Thursday, March 20”, an official UEFA statement read. It continued: “Article 11b of the UEFA disciplinary regulations says that various sanctions may be imposed on clubs whose supporters insult the human dignity of a person or group of persons by whatever means, including on grounds of colour, race, religion or ethnic origin.”
French Secretary of State for Youth and Sport Bernard Laporte called upon UEFA to “impose severe and dissuasive sanctions on FC Zenit St Petersburg following the racist behaviour of the Russian fans reported by the Marseille players”. Laporte plans to meet Michel Platini to “ask him to act with the greatest possible severity (points deductions or stadium closures) against European football clubs whose fans are found guilty of racist behaviour.”