FIFA has asked the Russian Football Union to explain why it banned a Ghanaian footballer for two matches for his reaction to fan racism and did not sanction the alleged abusers’ team.
In video from Friday’s Russian Premier League game, Spartak Moscow fans could be heard racially taunting FC Ufa midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong. The former Arsenal player is black.
Reacting with a finger gesture to the fans led to Frimpong being banned for two games, while Spartak escaped punishment over the latest racism incident to blight Russian football ahead of the 2018 World Cup. The RFU found no evidence of racism.
But FIFA sustainability head Federico Addiechi, whose brief covers racism issues, said Thursday that the Russians have been given until Tuesday to respond to the governing body’s disciplinary department.
“We don’t have a direct responsibility for what’s happening in the Russian league,” Addiechi said in St. Petersburg. “But if the Russian Football Union are in need of our support, and I think they are, then we can provide certain support.”
Russia’s second city on Saturday hosts the qualifying draw for the World Cup, which has increased the spotlight on the country’s struggle eradicating racism from football matches.
“It is up to us as the organizers of this event to make sure this event is welcoming everyone, it is safe for everyone — not just for the players and participants but also for the fans,” Addiechi said.
“It would be naive and first of all too arrogant for us to come here and say we are going to educate Russia. We are in no position to do that, we don’t need to do that, we have no moral statute to do that either.”
In December 2010, within hours of winning the FIFA vote to host its first World Cup, Russian leader Vladimir Putin said on football racism: “We see it and we believe it is a problem.
But in February, football anti-discrimination group FARE documented more than 200 incidents of racist and discriminatory behavior linked to Russian football over two seasons.