Russian Roulette with Racism

The topic of racism in football raised its head again on Wednesday with Manchester City’s Yaya Toure caught in the firing line when he experienced money chants from the CSKA Moscow fans during their Champions League clash.

The fact that in 2013 we are all still discussing what to do about racism in football shows the game still has a long way to come.  Wednesday’s incident in Moscow was an unfortunate one as it overshadowed a good match and diverted the attention away from the field. Ivorian Toure needs to be applauded for how he handled the incident, instead of walking of the pitch like AC Milan’s Prince-Boateng did he carried on with the game and didn’t let it affect his performance. The referee has come in for some criticism as he didn’t follow UEFA’s protocol in stopping the game when Toure  and he rightly should, the guidelines are clear if a player reports a racist incident the teams are supposed to be from the field of play and an address made over the systems PA. So why didn’t the referee chose to do this?

The majority of the blame must fall onto the CSKA Moscow lap and also the Russian Football Federation. There have been numerous incidents involving Russian teams being involved in monkey chanting or throwing bananas at black players. some of the most famous incidents involve Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos who when playing for Anzhi Makhachkala and was victim to monkey chants and had bananas aimed at him. In both incidents an internal investigation came up with poor excuses to justify the events, one was the fan was eating a banana when he was pushed in the back causing him to push his hand forward to seemingly present Carlos with the banana, and in the second incident the fan apparently threw a banana at Carlos to protest at his teams display. The total punishments for both incidents? £6000, no stadium closures, no points deduction nothing. Another Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow celebrated selling Peter Odemwingie to West Brom by unveiling a thank you sign complete with a banana painted at the end their punishment? Nothing.

Lokomotiv

And yet incidents where players choose to retaliate to racist incidents are dealt with more harshly, when Nigerian striker Emmanuel Emenike who at the time was playing Spartak Moscow decided to send a message of his own to opposition fans by making an a gesture that was deemed as obscene his punishment? £10,000 fine. The club received nothing.

CSKA’s statement after the match showed a distinct lack of class and also the typical mentality of the Russian club,their statement reads.  “We are surprised and disappointed by the racism allegations,In a thorough study of the videotape, we found no racist insults directed at the guests by CSKA fans, and the delegate confirmed this at the end of the match,
there were several moments during the match when CSKA were under attack and its fans tried to pressure the opposing side’s players with boos and whistles, regardless of their race.In any case, we regret the incident, although we consider accusations of racism to be groundless,”  and indeed if that wasn’t bad enough on of Toures own international team mates  Seydou Doumbia came out with a statement after the match saying “Yes, they’re always noisy in supporting the team, and try to put as much pressure as possible on our opponents, but they wouldn’t ever allow themselves to come out with racist chants. So my Ivory Coast colleague is clearly exaggerating.” such a ridiculous statement given the events.

With the eyes of the footballing world on Russian football again for whats going on off the pitch and a world cup coming up in 2018, the pressure is on the UEFA & FIFA to issue sanctions that force a change in the thinking of Russian Clubs. Will this happen though? We will see.

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