MOSCOW, October 24 (R-Sport) – Organizers of the 2018 World Cup in Russia issued a robust defense of the tournament as a “catalyst” to eradicate football racism in the country in response to a Manchester City midfielder’s allegations that CSKA Moscow fans racially abused him.
Yaya Toure made the claim after captaining City to a 2-1 win over CSKA in the Champions League on Wednesday, and even suggested some players could boycott the 2018 World Cup over racism.
“The 2018 World Cup in Russia, in particular, can act as a catalyst to positively change the mindsets and behavior across all involved in Russian football over the next four years,” organizers said in an e-mailed statement.
The recently passed Fans Law, which introduces banning orders for unruly fans, “shows Russia's determination to eradicate the problem for good,” organizers added.
Racism is not just a Russian problem, organizers emphasized.
“Whilst the alleged incidents are still under investigation by the relevant authorities, it is clear that all over the world a small minority try to ruin the wonderful experience of watching live world-class football for real fans,” they said.
“It is worth restating that all stakeholders in Russian football have made it clear that there is absolutely no place for any type of racial discrimination or abuse in our game.”
UEFA rules allow the organization to close sections of the offending club's stadium as a penalty for racist behavior from the fans, as well to as levy fines.
CSKA, meanwhile, has claimed there is no evidence that racist chanting took place.
"Having carefully studied a video recording of the match, we did not observe any abuse of a racist nature on the part of CSKA fans," a website statement said.
"After the game the match delegate confirmed this," the statement said. "In any event we regret this episode, even though we consider the racism accusations to be groundless. ... CSKA has always actively fought and will always fight against racism."
World football players’ union FIFPro has criticized the referee, Ovidiu Hategan, for not following UEFA rules to pause the game when Toure informed him of the alleged racist abuse.