During a Russian Premier League game on Friday, FC Ufa midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong — who is black — responded with an angry gesture toward Spartak Moscow fans who were racially taunting him. In response, the Russian Football Union suspended Frimpong for two games.
As for Spartak Moscow? It was fined the equivalent of $350 … because its fans threw objects onto the field, not because they’re terrible racists.
And now FIFA is stepping in, asking the RFU why it sanctioned Frimpong but not the team with the racist fans.
“We don’t have a direct responsibility for what’s happening in the Russian league,” FIFA sustainability head Federico Addiechi said Thursday in St. Petersburg. “But if the Russian Football Union are in need of our support, and I think they are, then we can provide certain support.”
Frimpong asked the same types of questions on Twitter:
According to the Associated Press, even though the racist chants by Spartak’s fans can be heard on video of the match, the RFU found no evidence of racism. It’s business as usual for the 2018 World Cup host, which has seen more than 200 incidents of racist and discriminatory behavior over the past two seasons, according to a report issued by the anti-discrimination group FARE in February.
And it’s not the first time the Russian league has sanctioned a black player who was responding to racist taunts from Spartak Moscow’s fans. FC Rostov midfielder Guelor Kanga was banned for three matches in December after he made an obscene gesture toward Spartak’s fans. The team was fined $1,300.
In October, European soccer’s governing body forced CSKA Moscow to play a Champions League game in an empty stadium, punishment for racist behavior from its fans.
Addiechi was in St. Petersburg ahead of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying draw.
“It is up to us as the organizers of this event to make sure this event is welcoming everyone, it is safe for everyone — not just for the players and participants but also for the fans,” Addiechi said.