FIFA has imposed a fine of £22,000 on the Russian Football Union for the monkey chants by Russian fans against black French players in what was described by stakeholders as a slap in the wrist that does nothing to fight against rampant racism in the game of football.
Racists acts are particularly rampant within Russian football leading to concern that failure to discipline them will spoil the 2018 World Cup for black players.
The £22,000 fine stems from the match between France and Russia held in March this year at the Krestovsky Stadium in St Petersburg, one of the host venues for the 2018 World Cup. It was reported that racist chants were directed to French black players; Paul Pogba, Ousmane Dembele and N’Golo Kante; confirming charges that Russian football is the hotbed of racism in sport anchored on rich ultra nationalism and Nazism.
The racist acts caused stern protest from the French minister of sport, Laura Flessel, who is herself black. She said something must be done at the international level to stop this sort of incident from happening.
“Racism has no place on the football pitch. We have to take action together on a European and international level to bring an end to this inadmissible behaviour”.
Russian authorities have been dismissive of these concerns -an attitude well represented the national team coach Stanislav Cherchesov. He’s been quoted saying: “I do not think we have racism on a scale that needs to be fought.”
FIFA said the fine against Russia displays its “zero tolerance approach” towards discrimination. “Following a thorough investigation including the review of video evidence, after analysing all the specific circumstances of the case, in particular the gravity of the incident but also the limited number of fans involved, (Fifa has) decided that the Russian Football Union was liable for a breach of article 58,”
Critiques think otherwise. This concern has caused ProBonoMatters, a Johannesburg based online operation dedicated to serve public good, to launch an initiative to monitor and expose racism around FIFA activity in the run up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and beyond. The initiative sets out to hold FIFA accountable to its promise of casting pout racism from the game of football.
Reacting to the fine against Russian Football Union, ProBonoMatters said the fine was infuriating. It confirms our position that FIFA does not have the will and determination to fight racism. Its clear that something else needs to happen to force FIFA into action.
Chairperson of the London based anti-racism campaign group Kick It Out, Lord Herman Ouseley, described the fine as “pitiful”.
“The organisation reiterates its belief that the lack of effective action from Fifa against the issue of racism in Russian football will likely result in the further abuse of black players in matches involving the country.
“Ultimately, with this outcome, Kick It Out has little confidence that Fifa can effectively deal with potential incidents of racism during this summer’s World Cup and protect those black players, staff and supporters who will be in attendance.”