Just a few days after the World Cup finals in the same city of Moscow, the football world faces another case of racism in Russia.
This comes after a Russian football team, Torpedo Moscow, cancelled a deal to sign 19-year-old defender, Erving Botaka-Yobama, a Russian national of Congolese descent.
Although they said the cancellation due to financial reasons, the player’s skin certainly played a huge role as this was not the first case of racism involving the Russian team.
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Before Yobama, Torpedo had already had its stadium banned for racist chants against a Brazilian player, the display of Nazi symbols in the stands, and attacks from fans and opponents.
After Torpedo announced that Yobama signed a contract with the club, a group of fans known as the Zapad-5 Ultras wrote on Russian social media site Vkontakte: “Black may be one of our club’s colors, but we only want whites in our ranks.”
A few days later, the Torpedo authorities announced that the contract had been cancelled, but denied that the Ultras’ position was related to this. “Skin color has never been a criterion when choosing our players, Racism has no right to exist,” the club stated.
At the same time, it was added that the real reason is financial –Yobama’s previous team reportedly demanded money for the transfer, despite the earlier talks about a non-cash transaction. The would-be transfer caused a big storm in Russia, because not everybody is buying the Torpedo translation. Many believe the club went into a settlement with racists.
On the other hand, the head of the All-Russian Union of Footballers Alexander Zotov condemned the protests saying: “World Championships have improved the image of Russia, but in our country there is still a group of idiots….it is sad that people with such limited horizons still live in our country. During the World Cup we saw how open society we are. I know that Torpedo fans are normal people who do not support the position on [Yobama].”
In April of this year also Spartak Moscow was punished by the Russian Football Federation, because of the racist songs of their fans directed at Cape Verdean Nuno Rocha, player of the FK Tosno.
Also in the same month, FIFA had filed a disciplinary proceeding against the Russian Football Federation (RFU) for racist chants heard during the Russian-French match on 27 March. In St. Petersburg, where France beat the Russians 3-1 in friendly before the 2018 World Cup, several fans chanted racist chants aimed at French players, Ousmane Dembélé and Paul Pogba.
Russia has been the scene of several demonstrations against players of African origin and beyond.