MOSCOW: A further challenge has been thrown down to FIFA’s anti-racism stance after the scrapping of its anti-discrimination panel was followed by a banana being thrown onto the pitch in Russia in a gesture apparently aimed at a PSV Ei dhoven player.
PSV were playing Rostov in the Champions League Group D tie when the fruit was seen on television being tossed onto the pitch in the 23rd minute of the 2-2 draw.
The intended target could have been French defender Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, Dutch left back Jetro Willems or Dutch right winger Luciano Narsingh or all three.
PSV have said they will not ask UEFA to punish Rostov for the incident however the European federation may not agree.
A PSV spokesman said: “Before the match, the club, along with the police, said they would take all necessary measures to ensure such incidents did not occur.
“It is obvious that it is impossible to control every single person. Therefore, questions regarding a punishment for the club will be down to UEFA and this is none of our business. We can point out again that we are categorically against racism.”
The Russian Football Union (RFU) said Rostov would face a stiff punishment.
“This banana will cost us dearly,” said Vyachelsav Koloskov, veteran honorary president of the RFU.
He told the R-Sport news agency: “It won’t affect [our staging of the 2018] World Cup, but given the negative past, you could not think of anything worse that could have happened. Rostov could be forced to play a match behind closed doors.”
Russian World Cup organising ceo Alexei Sorokin said: “We are keeping an eye on things like this together with the Russian Football Union. However it seems it is impossible to control absolutely every person in the stadium. I think this was a one-off in Rostov and it will not be repeated.”
On September 9, UEFA sanctioned Rostov by closing part of the stadium for one home match after the club’s supporters were found guilty of racism during the second leg of their Champions League play-off against Ajax.
FIFA’s decision to wrap up its anti-racism task force was heavily criticised earlier this week as the wrong message at the wrong time.
Secretary-general Fatma Samoura has said that the work, instead, is being developed into a major programme.