The Russian Football Union has haned put a three-match ban to a player who reacted to supportes racially abusing him.
The FC Rostov midfielder Guélor Kanga, from Gabon, was singled out by Spartak Moscow fans during a Russian Premier League match on Thursday, and responded by showing them his middle finger.
Kanga was also fined £600 for his “insulting gesture to fans”. Spartak were fined £800 for “the chanting by fans of insulting expressions” – a charge which incorporates swearing, rather than the separate offence of racist chanting.
In September, Dynamo Moscow’s Congolese defender, Christopher Samba, was given a two-match ban in similar circumstances after he too was racially abused.
Ironically, Rostov coach, Igor Gamula, missed Thursday’s fixture as a result of the five-match ban he was given for racist comments he made about black players at his own club in November.
Gamula told reporters: “We’ve got enough black players, we’ve got six of the things and you want me to sign a seventh?”
He later said his comments had been misreported, explaining: “The British press don’t grasp Russian humour.”
No, they probably don’t, but they do understand racism.
So far this season, CSKA Moscow have been punished for fan racism in the Champions League, while Spartak and Torpedo Moscow have faced racism charges in the Russian Premier League.
Earlier this year FIFA launched a #SayNoToRacism selfie campaign. Amazingly, that one made little impression on the Russian racists who continue to verbally abuse black players.
More recently, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said, after watching the World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, that they would make the issue of racism a priority. No doubt via a task force.
Earlier this week, FIFA acknowledged the importance of using the next World Cup to “showcase FIFA’s zero-tolerance policy against any form of discrimination.”
A true commitment to the cause of anti-racism from FIFA would include a genuine a threat to remove the World Cup from a country where racism appears endemic.
That, as we all know, is never going to happen.
In response to the FIFA statement, Russia’s World Cup organizing committee deputy CEO Alexander Djordjadze said it was “developing a plan that will encompass all areas concerning the fight against discrimination.”
Developing? In the year 2014, how can a country have not developed a plan to combat racism?