Russia’s deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko claims the country does not have an endemic issue with racism as FIFA prepares to employ strict anti-discrimination measures at the Confederations Cup.
Referees will have the power to halt, suspend and even abandon matches should instances of racism occur during the tournament, with trained observers to be deployed in support of the initiative.
Speaking at a media conference to mark the opening of the event, Mutko was questioned on reports of far-right behaviour and racism during Russian Premier League matches.
“We are grateful to FIFA, [it is] with great satisfaction we have welcomed this decision and [hope] that the system which will be strict,” he said.
“For us in Russia it is a challenge and a responsibility. And I think that this is a perfect solution.
“FIFA… has no compromises, zero tolerance. As for Russia… the Russian Federation and Russian football have taken similar measures, stricter measures in Russia.”
Mutko, who also serves as the local organising committee chairman, insisted local monitoring had demonstrated that Russian football compares favourably to other countries in terms of tolerance and equality.
“With our colleagues from some other organisations we are monitoring this situation in Russia,” he said.
“We see the reports coming to us. There are also some reports from some public organisations.
“These figures are telling us this problem is no more systematic in Russia. The football union in Russia and the authorities have taken a number of measures. Our football union has a commissioner on racism in football.
“Our requirements are stricter and they are also written in our regulations. We are an open, democratic state. We have a lot of foreign players in different clubs. This is standard. We do not have any big problems here.
“This is a problem that is not purely Russian. It exists everywhere in the world and of course, FIFA is fighting this phenomenon. We will support FIFA and in our joint efforts we will try to conqueror this.”
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