France’s Paul Pogba, right, duels for the ball with Russia’s Fyodor Smolov during the international friendly soccer match between Russia and France at the Saint Petersburg stadium in St.Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, March 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

FIFA to probe Russian racism against France players

FIFA has opened an investigation after France soccer team players were racially abused by fans in Russia

FIFA has opened an investigation after France national soccer team players were racially abused by fans in Russia, less than three months before the country hosts the World Cup.

Monkey chants could be heard from the crowd in St. Petersburg on Tuesday when black French players touched the ball in a friendly against Russia. The abuse was also audible on a TV broadcast after Paul Pogba scored France’s second goal in a 3-1 win.

FIFA said Wednesday in a statement it was collecting evidence and would contact the anti-discrimination Fare Network, which helps world soccer’s governing body investigate racism cases.

“FIFA is collecting the different match reports and potential evidence in regards to the discriminatory incident reported in the media,” FIFA said in a statement. “Until we have evaluated all information available, we cannot comment further.”

French Sports Minister Laura Flessel also called for action.

“Racism has no place on the soccer field,” Flessel wrote on Twitter alongside a picture of the French team. “We should act together at a European and international level in order to stop this intolerable behaviour.”

Flessel didn’t comment directly on the chants at Tuesday’s game.

Fare said the incidents in St. Petersburg highlight shortcomings in how Russia has prepared for the World Cup.

“If photographers heard it pitch-side, then there must have been stewards and other officials who also heard it,” Fare Network executive director Piara Powar said. “If, toward the end of March, these guys don’t know what to do, and they’re not initiating procedures and protocols that exist, then that doesn’t bode very well for the World Cup.

Related: Toronto mayor wants city to co-host 2026 FIFA World Cup

“So close to the World Cup, questions are being asked as to why it wasn’t dealt with as it occurred during play.”

It’s the third racism case this season at St. Petersburg Stadium, which will host a World Cup semifinal match. Zenit St. Petersburg has twice faced UEFA charges for racism by its fans in Europa League games.

Zenit fans flew a banner praising convicted war criminal Ratko Mladic when playing a Macedonian club in November and are accused of using a racially charged term to mock an injured black player in a game against Leipzig. The second case is due to be heard by UEFA on May 31, two weeks before the World Cup begins.

Related: Canadian women move to No. 4 in FIFA world rankings

___

Ellingworth reported from Moscow. AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed to this report.

Dmitri Lovetsky And James Ellingworth, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Non-venomous ball python missing in Vic West

Snake was reported missing to Victoria police Tuesday morning

Crews respond to medical incident on West Saanich Road

Incident appears to be cleared, witnesses say

Saanich police search for potential victims, witnesses after series of unprovoked assaults

Police are looking for more information about two incidents from June 12

Multiple Victoria officers injured during violent incidents, including mental health calls over long weekend

Police deploy pepper spray, conducted energy weapon while arresting suspect

Newly appointed Resilient Saanich committee to weigh in on new environmental policy framework

Council selects nine members, First Nations representative position remains open

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll

Some are concerned about side effects, while others don’t think the virus is a big deal

Don’t leave your hand sanitizer in the sun and other tips to stay COVID safe this summer

Being mindful of staying outside and keeping hand sanitizer, sunscreen out of the sun recommended

What exactly is ‘old growth’ B.C. forest, and how much is protected?

Forests minister Doug Donaldson doesn’t support ‘moratorium’

Most Read