On the eve of the World Cup, a Russian lawmaker urged the nation's women to avoid sexual liaisons with foreigners of different races.
Tamara Pletnyova, a lawmaker in the Communist Party and head of a state congressional committee on children and family affairs, discouraged women from sleeping with foreigners visiting Moscow for the quadrennial international soccer tournament.
“There will be girls who meet men, and then they will give birth,” said Pletnyova, according to a translation by the Independent newspaper. “Maybe they will get married, maybe they won’t. But the kids will suffer, just like they suffered [in 1980]," she said during the radio interview.
The lawmaker was responding to a question from the radio host who mentioned children born out of wedlock following the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, according to the Reuters news agency.
“It is one thing if the parents are of the same race; quite another if they are of different races,” Pletnyova responded. “We should give birth to our own children.”
The Kremlin responded to Pletnyova's pronouncement by urging women to make their own choices. “Russian women can probably manage their own affairs,” a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin told reporters. “They are the best women in the world.”
A spokeswoman for Pletnyova told The Washington Post that she was not able to immediately comment.
Moscow officials expect at least a million people to travel to the country for the tournament.
A report released by research and advocacy groups observed that discriminatory incidents during soccer games declined during the 2017-2018 Russian season, but fans still hurl monkey chants at black players, shout homophobic slurs and resort to physical violence. The Russian soccer association was fined $30,000 last month for similar actions during a game in St. Petersburg, according to Reuters.
FIFA officials reportedly put in place safeguards to dissuade potential discriminatory incidents during the games.
“I wouldn’t say that we are concerned about discrimination, human rights and security, but we take them very seriously,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino, said according to Reuters. “We have taken appropriate measure in the preparation process.”
To discourage these incidents from occurring on the international stage, FIFA has instructed referees to halt games and ask fans to stop, suspend the game until the behavior ends, or leave the game entirely.
Natalia Abbakumova contributed to this report.