MOSCOW: Spartak Moscow, whose ground is one of the World Cup host venues later this year, have been condemned for a racist tweet.
Spartak tweeted a picture showing three players of colour – the Brazilians Fernando, Luiz Adriano and Pedro Rocha – training in Dubai, with the caption: ‘Look at how the chocolates are melting under the sun.’
Piara Powar, the head of the European anti-discrimination organisation FARE, said: “For Russia’s biggest club to tolerate and then celebrate racist references of this kind is wrong.”
Kick It Out echoed his comments, saying: “This social media post from the official account of Spartak Moscow only continues to highlight the prejudices towards black people in Russia.
“With the World Cup only a few months away, it is a reminder that Russia – as with the whole of football – has significant work to do to eradicate racism of all forms from the game.”
Several hours after the initial tweet, Spartak published another post with midfielder Fernando, speaking in Russian, saying that there was “no racism at Spartak, we are friends and a family”.
This is not the first time Spartak have been censured over racist behaviour this season. Leonid Mironov, the 19-year-old captain of the Spartak side, was charged with racist behaviour last month during a UEFA Youth League game against Liverpool.
Liverpool lodged a similar complaint against Spartak after Rhian Brewster’s teammate Bobby Adekanye was racially abused by the Russian club’s fans during the reverse fixture in September. Spartak were found guilty in that instance and were made to partially close their academy ground for one match.
Former Blackburn Rovers defender Chris Samba and forward Peter Odemwingie, who subsequently moved to former West Bromwich Albion, were also racially abused when they played for Russian clubs, while Brazilian striker Hulk said in July 2015 that he encountered racism in “almost every game” while playing for Zenit St Petersburg.
FIFA responded to the Spartak incident with its own criticism. A statement said:
FIFA condemns the message published on the Twitter account of Spartak Moscow. As said many times, any form of discrimination in or outside the field is unacceptable and has no place in football.
As to the handling of this matter, this falls under the responsibility of the relevant national body.
At its meeting in May 2017 the FIFA Council emphasised that member associations and referees should be ready to adopt a strict policy to deal with incidents of racist nature.
Furthermore it should be noted that as from the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017, FIFA has adopted a three-step procedure in case of discriminatory incidents and also deploys anti discrimination observers at all matches in official tournaments.