UEFA penalizes CSKA Moscow for fans’ racist chants

The stadium in the city of Khimki outside Moscow must close Sector D for the upcoming game. Source: ITAR-TASS

The stadium in the city of Khimki outside Moscow must close Sector D for the upcoming game. Source: ITAR-TASS

Arena Khimki must close sections for the upcoming Bayern Munich game on Nov. 27.

Europe’s governing soccer board ruled this week that CSKA Moscow must partially close its home stadium during its game against Bayern Munich as punishment for racist chants from club supporters during a Champions League match against Manchester City on October 23.

The Union of European Football Associations, or UEFA, made the ruling on October 30 from its disciplinary board regarding the case of the October 23 Champions League match at the Arena Khimki outside Moscow, in which CSKA Moscow lost 1-2 to Manchester City.

The inquiry was launched at the request of Manchester City’s Ivorian midfield player Yaya Toure, who accused CSKA fans of aiming racist chants at him during the game.

The CSKA management denies any wrongdoing and says it will appeal the UEFA ruling.

The game was judged by Ovidiu Hategan, a Romanian referee. According to the UEFA rules, if the referee learns about inappropriate fan behavior, he must stop the game and make a corresponding public announcement.

Toure, who was the Manchester City captain for the game, approached Hategan to complain about the behavior of the opposite team's supporters. The referee made a note in the final protocol of the game, but did not make a public announcement during the match.

“A lot of things have been said about racism,” Toure told the BBC. “If today an organization and supporters stray from the straight path or slip up, the goal is to set them straight again.

“We are all humans. It’s not a nice thing to go a play a football match – to bring joy to the people – and to be called a monkey.”

Toure demanded to disqualify the Arena Khimki as the venue for several upcoming matches, and suggested that African players boycott the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

CSKA denies the accusations, saying the club’s black players can vouch there was no racial behavior on the part of its fans.

CSKA President Yevgeniy Giner has dismissed Toure’s complains as “nonsense and a provocation.”

“The match delegate did not hear anything, nor did the inspector. Half our team is black, including African and Brazilian nationals. Do you think our fans don’t love [CSKA Moscow's Ivorian forward] Seydou Doumbia or [Nigerian forward] Ahmed Musa? Do these players ever get abused?”

European and international soccer authorities have urged Russia to do more to curb racism surrounding the sport and its fans.

“The Russian federation have got to assure – along with the Russian government – that these incidents are put to bed, because it’s happening too often,” says FIFA Vice-President Jim Boyce.

UEFA launched its inquiry into CSKA Moscow in line with its zero tolerance policy to racist behavior. The partial closure will affect Sector D of the Arena Khimki, where the racial comments are believed to have come from during the October 23 match.

CSKA Moscow General Manager Roman Babayev insisted the club was not guilty in the incident.

“We do not deny the problem of racism per se exists, including at Russian stadiums, but in this particular case we believe the problem to have been exaggerated. Whether or not there was racist behavior has yet to be proven,” he said.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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