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Xenophobia in Sport

Xenophobia in Sport Russian and British football fans provoked turmoil after the soccer match of teams at the European Championship in Marseille, June 2016.

Football xenophobia is a common phenomenon in Russia. This is true for fans of the less popular teams as well as large football clubs.

On September 22, player for the Moscow’s Dinamo FC Christopher Samba did not appear in the second half of the game with Torpedo FC, due to racist insults from the tribunes A similar incident occurred on November 26 in a game against Rostov FC.

On September 27, during a Russian Championship game between Zenit FC and Spartak FC held in St. Petersburg, player from the former team was subjected to racist insults by Spartak fans.

On October 5, three football fans in Samara appeared at a game wearing shirts depicting an SS Totenkopf symbol. It is also known that radical football fans were heavily involved in Pushkino riots in May 2014.

On March 15, 2015, fans of Torpedo FC shouted racist abuse at a Brazilian player from Zenit FC. On April 5, Torpedo FC fans displayed Nazi symbols in a game against Arsenal FC in Tula.

Some sports commentators have also made xenophobic remarks, which was previously unheard of. On June 10, commentator Alexei Andronov called Shakhter FC trainer M. Lucescu a “dirty gypsy”.

Sports officials have been trying to misrepresent the situation. On June 4, speaking at a seminar against discrimination in football, Deputy Minister of Sports Natalia Parshikova said that Russia does not have a high level of xenophobia in football. She admitted that such problems exist, just like in other countries, but disagreed with the view that there is a high level of xenophobia in the country.

October 1, 2015 in Moscow at the match “Lokomotiv” - “Skenderbau” (League of Europe), the hosts cheered the Serbian chant “Ubi sheptara” (“Kill the Albanian”) and “Kosovo - Serbia”.

On December 4, 2015, during the match of the 18th round of the Premier League “Spartak” “Wings of the Soviets” fans of “Spartacus” burned five flags of Turkey. On December 9, Spartak was fined 100,000 rubles. In addition, the Control and Disciplinary Committee of the RAF warned the club that, in the event of a repeat, more stringent sports sanctions would be applied.

Nevertheless, as the World Cup in the Russian Federation (2018) is approaching, Russian authorities being to pay more attention to the problem of xenophobia in sports. This became especially evident during the preparation and holding of the Confederations Cup in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi and Kazan in the summer of 2017.

The day before, president of the Russian Football Union (RFU) and chairman of the organizing committee “Russia-2018” Vitaly Mutko said that racism in Russian football has greatly reduced. Earlier, the International Football Federation (FIFA) presented a three-stage procedure to combat manifestations of intolerance, which will be applied at the Confederations Cup in Russia. Judges were given the right to stop the matches and ask for an official announcement at the stadium with the demand to stop manifestations of intolerance. Then the arbiter has the right to interrupt the match and make another warning, and if the manifestations of intolerance continue, the judge may decide to end the match. In addition, observers will be present at all matches of the tournament to combat discrimination.

As for discrimination, we are grateful to FIFA, we understand the system that will work at the Confederations Cup and the World Championships in Russia. For us, this is a responsibility and absolutely the correct decision. Russia has applied similar measures, albeit more stringent. We monitor our situation with colleagues from organisations, we have reports. They say that in recent years there are not so many cases (of racism), but there are one-offs,” Mutko said. “The RFU took measures: we toughened the requirements in the regulations, we are an open state, many foreign nationals play in Russian football in different clubs, then we do not see any problems. This problem exists around the world, FIFA is struggling with this, and we will support FIFA.”

The Confederations Cup was held in Russia from June 17 to July 2, 2017, and no manifestations of racism in the stands and football fields were noted during the event.

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