Racism to be Red-Carded in Russia
Racism to be Red-Carded in Russia
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We are but weeks away from the FIFA World Cup. All stakeholders are hoping that the event is remembered for the football, but what about Russia’s reputation for racist fans at club games?
In April FIFA charged the World Cup hosts with racism after French player Paul Pogba was the target of monkey chants. This was during a France-Russia friendly at St. Petersburg Stadium, which will host four FIFA World Cup matches pool games.
Morocco vs Iran (Kwesé Free Sports and Kwesé FIFA Channel, 15 June at 16.45 CAT)
Russia vs Egypt (KFS and Kwesé FIFA Channel, 19 June at 19.45 CAT)
Brazil vs Costa Rica (Kwesé FIFA Channel, 22 June at 14.00 CAT)
Nigeria vs Argentina (KFS and Kwesé FIFA Channel, 26 June at 19.45 CAT)
Players like Brazilian star Hulk (who played at forward for Zenit St. Petersburg) have expressed concern about racism among Russia’s football fans. The Russian Football Union paid fines for two previous racist incidents, with Zenit St. Petersburg sanctioned by UEFA for racism during Europa League games. FIFA President (Gianni Infantino) has made it clear that racism will not be tolerated at the showpiece event. Referees are empowered to stop – and even abandon – games players become the victims of overtly discriminate taunting.
Russia is not as diverse a society as other football playing nations like Brazil, Belgium, France and England. The hope is that the spirit of goodwill – which invariably pervades FIFA World Cups – prevails and that the Russian people embrace humanity in all its diverse manifestations. Germany (2006) showed the world that they are not the stereotype of a nation of stodgy perfectionists – hosting a fun-filled carnival month of football and parties. South Africa (2010) promoted the idea that it’s time for Africa – challenging stereotypes of a chaotic continent by hosting a slick and successful tournament.
Russian football will be desperate to stop racists fans from spoiling the country’s image. Advanced identification systems will root out racist fans who pick on black players. CCTV cameras can identify trouble-causers and security guards are empowered to eject them from the stadium and ban them from the remainder of the tournament.
For decades now football has been a force for the values of tolerance and diversity. Zinedine Zidane and the French World Cup winning team of 1998 did much to foster better race relations in that country. South Africa moved a step closer to racial normalcy with its hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Through sheer footballing brilliance Pele (Brazil) and Eusebio (Portugal) transcended petty racial prejudice and united their countrymen in a shared love of the game. There always be nasty elements spoiling for a fight. But the smart money says that billions will revel in the beauty of the game – enjoying football from Russia with love…for humanity.
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