Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) has called on the Russian Football Union (RFS) to implement a harder stance on racism before the World Cup in 2018.
The Russian game came under further scrutiny this week when Emmanuel Frimpong was banned for two matches after gesturing towards Spartak Moscow fans he accused of racially abusing him – a claim that was subsequently rejected by the RFS.
Pavel Klymenko from FARE believes the RFS are in “denial” over the issue of racism, and has called on action to be taken now before the World Cup heads to Russia in three years.
“The problem is quite significant in Russian football,” the development officer told Omnisport. “Although when we speak about it and even when confronted with evidence, the Russian authorities tend to downplay it or deny it.
“The Russian authorities have to understand that dealing with racism … is beneficial for the Russian people themselves and for the Russian society. Russia is a very multi-cultural society dealing with more than 100 nationalities living in Russia.
“There’s a lot of denial, there’s a lot of downplaying the problem, and that’s actually a very bad signal being sent from the very top of Russian football to the fans, to people who go to the stadiums, and especially to the far-right groups among the football fans in Russia who would now think that they can racially abuse players and just get away with it.
“There is a quite big instrumentation of sanctions available to the Russian Football Union disciplinary committee. But the problem is they have to be applied consistently and this is the biggest problem.
“When you see the reality of the sanctions, you clearly see a discrepancy. So the sanctions have to be applied consistently. It’s not a question on the severity of the sanctions, it’s the consistency of their applications.”
Klymenko says it would be wrong to gloss over the issue until the World Cup and allow extra scrutiny to ensure it is controlled during the event.
He added: “We have to acknowledge that the World Cup is a bit of a different environment compared to a league match.
“Of course there is way more policing, and my idea is that Russia will try and deal with the far-right in football and generally with the problem, only by means of over-policing.
“They might get through for the World Cup, but if we’re serious about it, we have to tackle it in the long run. Russia needs an action plan to tackle these issues step-by-step.”
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