Russia has drawn criticism in preparation of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics due to its LGBT policy. Some politicians, activists and athletes are advocating boycotting the games. As if that wasn't bad enough, the country is now the subject of calls for another sports boycott, this time for the 2018 World Cup.
After being the subject of racist chants that compared him to a monkey, Manchester City midfielder Yaya Touré said that players of African descent should skip the 2018 World Cup in order to bring attention to racism coming from CSKA Moscow fans.
"If we are not confident coming to the World Cup in Russia, we don't come," Touré told media outlets after the match. "I don't know why it happens in football. I don't know why you don't get something like this in rugby or handball or any other sport.”
Moscow CSKA has thus far denied the allegations of racism by its fans. In a statement, the club said: "Having carefully studied the video of the game, we found no racist insults from the fans of CSKA. On many occasions fans booed and whistled to put pressure on rival players but regardless of race. In particular this happened with Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko. Why the Ivorian midfielder took it as being directed at him is not clear."
Earlier today, CSKA chief executive Sergy Cheban, speaking with the Associated Press, said through an interpreter that he didn’t hear the racist chants at Wednesday’s match, saying "there was not an incident" and that "everyone hears what he wants to hear."
Because Touré reported the incident to the game referee, UEFA will launch an official investigation into the event. In a statement today, UEFA said, “UEFA president Michel Platini has requested that the UEFA administration immediately conduct an internal investigation to understand why the three-step protocol established to deal with incidents of a racist nature was not implemented."
In a twist of irony, the incident took place during UEFA’s Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) Action Week and highlights a long-standing struggle for international soccer to address racism.
This May, UEFA implemented stricter sanctions for players and coaches who are found guilty of racial abuse, subjecting them to a 10-game ban. Under the new policy, racist offenses permit a partial stadium closure for a first offense, and an empty stadium or fine for a second offense. If racism persists after sanctions, a club can be forced to forfeit matches, have points deducted or be thrown out of a competition. UEFA said it will convene on Oct. 30 regarding the CSKA case.