ST PETERSBURG: Brazil forward Hulk has returned to the attack over racism in Russian football writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The 29-year-old was controversially withdraw by his club, Zenit, from helping with the World Cup draw locally in St Petersburg in July after he had complained about racist abuse in “almost every game.”
Now he has complained that he was insulted racially by fans of Spartak in Moscow in a 2-2 draw in which he scored Zenit’s first goal. This presents a first test for Congo’s Costant Omari in his high-profile new role as head of FIFA’s anti-racism task force,
Hulk said: “Unfortunately, the same situation keeps happening: racism in the stands. I will not react to them because I have talked a lot about this issue so all I do now is blow them all kisses and answer their behaviour with football out on the pitch. It’s not worth discussing these things.”
The Russian Football Union confirmed that racist behaviour had been noted in referee and observer’s match report.
Last season Spartak and Moscow Torpedo were punished for fans’ racist abuse aimed at Hulk. In another case, he criticised referee Alexei Matyunin for alleged racist abuse against himself during a league match in December last year. The referee was acquitted for lack of evidence.
Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s Sports Minister, is now also president of the RFU as well as head of the 2018 local organising committee and a member of the executive committee of FIFA, the embattled world federation.
FIFA’s anti-discrimination effort froze after the arrest in May of vice-president Jeffrey Webb who had been head of its task force against racism and discrimination, on FIFAGate corruption charges which he denies.
On Friday one of the newest members of the exco, Congo’s Constant Omari, was appointed new chairman of the task force with a challenge of reviving its momentum.