Black football players may boycott 2018 Russia World Cup
Yaya Toure, captain of leading English football club Manchester City, has said that players could boycott the 2018 World Cup in Russia unless the Russian authorities crack down on racism.
Toure’s statement followed an earlier comment in which the player complained that he had been subject to racist abuse during a Champions League game against CSKA Moscow on Oct. 23. He complained that every time he was in control of the ball, he heard racist taunts and monkey chants from CSKA fans.
Toure, a native of Ivory Coast, said that Russia must be held responsible for such behavior by its citizens. He also described that behavior as “unbelievable”.
Toure was backed by two black teammates, Fernandinho and Vincent Kompany, who also complained about taunts from the fans.
Manchester City has lodged an official complaint with UEFA. CSKA may also face disciplinary action because its fans set off fireworks during the game against the English team.
CSKA Moscow has flatly rejected the accusations. "We are surprised and disappointed by statements of Manchester City FC player Yaya Toure and other members of the English club on the alleged racially motivated insults from PFC CSKA fans during yesterday's Champions League match at Arena Khimki," the Russian club’s press service said in a statement. “Having carefully studied the video of the game, we found no racist insults from PFC CSKA supporters to the guests, and the match delegate confirmed it after the final whistle.”
“In many episodes of the encounter, especially with the attacks on our goal, fans made disapproving noises, booed and whistled to put pressure on the opposite side's players regardless of their race. In particular, this happened in the moments with Alvaro Negredo, when he scored an illegal goal, and Edin Dzeko at the end of the second half, when he played against PFC CSKA goalkeeper in a dangerous manner. It is not clear, why the Ivorian midfielder of Manchester City took it all personally."
Seydou Doumbia, a CSKA Moscow forward who is Toure’s teammate in the Ivory Coast national team, said he was surprised by Toure’s allegations. “I didn't hear anything like that from the CSKA fans. Yes, they're always noisy in supporting the team and try to put as much pressure as possible on our opponents, but they wouldn't ever allow themselves to come out with racist chants. So my Ivory Coast colleague is clearly exaggerating," Doumbia said.
Asked whether Russia needs to address the problem of racism ahead of the World Cup, Toure said, “Of course they do. It's very important. Otherwise, if we are not confident coming to the World Cup in Russia, we don't come.”
FIFA and UEFA have yet to comment on Toure’s allegations.
This article originally appeared in Russian at RBC Daily.