Manuel Veth –
The Russian Football Union has finally introduced a comprehensive anti-racism monitoring system for the Russian Football Premier League. Alexey Smertin announced the introduction of such a system on Friday, June 21.
In an announcement published on the homepage of the Russian Football Union Smertin said: “The primary task of the monitoring system is to create a welcoming and friendly atmosphere in the stadiums during the matches of the Russian Football Premier League. This system was already in place for the matches of the Confederations Cup, and we think that it will work well in the Russian championship as well.
Spartak Moscow were the first club to be fined as a result of the new monitoring system. Spartak fans had chanted “why the f… does Russia need a monkey” towards Lokomotiv’s Brazilian born goalkeeper Guilherme at the Russian Super Cup final on July 14.
The Anti-Racism System has Fined Spartak and Dinamo
Guilherme, who has featured for Russia’s national team the Sbornaya, later spoke to ESPN Brazil as racism as a cultural problem in Russian football. He believes that fans do not necessarily make the connection between provocations and racist slogans.
Meanwhile, Dinamo Moscow were fined after fans conducted monkey chants during the Moscow Derby between Dinamo and Spartak on Tuesday. The Russian racism monitoring system has now fined both Dinamo and Spartak 250,000 roubles (€3650). The control system will also observe games of Russia’s Football National League (second division), and as a result, Avangard Kursk were also fined 250,000 roubles after their fans chanted neo-Nazi slogans.
The fan organisation CSKA Against Racism has lauded the system as a step in the right direction. Speaking to the Futbolgrad Network, the organisation stated: “We hope that it is the beginning of a systematic approach to combating racism on an institutional level. It was one of the main parts of our plan that we proposed to Smertin.”
The Russian Anti-Racism Monitoring System Still Has Some Flaws
Despite the positives, however, there are still some issues with the system. The FARE Network, for example, criticized that the system ignored a homophobic banner displayed by Dinamo fans in the game against Spartak. The club was merely fined for displaying an unauthorised banner.
The organisation also lamented that the RFU has not announced a precise plan on how the system is supposed to work. The FARE Network has reported incidents in Russian football since 2012 in cooperation with the Russian based SOVA Centre—the latest report A changing picture: Incidents of discrimination in Russian football 2015-2017 was published this year. The FARE Network has also launched monitoring systems in conjunction with UEFA as well as FIFA and monitored games at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia.
The criticism aside there is no doubt that the introduction of a monitoring system in Russian football is a step in the right direction. The RFU and the RFPL now need to guarantee that this system is not just a sign of good faith, but rather the beginning of a systematic fight against racism.
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.