After Manchester City midfielder Yaya Touré received racial abuse during the club’s 2-1 win at CSKA Moscow on Wednesday, the club formally complained to UEFA. Meanwhile, the Ivorian called for extreme measures as the Russian club denied any wrongdoing.
“Manchester City FC can confirm that it has today issued a written formal complaint to UEFA regarding the events of last night’s game against CSKA Moscow,” the Premier League club said in a website statement. “It follows the complaint which was raised to the UEFA delegate immediately after the conclusion of the game. It is noted that UEFA have opened proceedings into the matter and we await the findings in due course.”
Television commentators and the player himself said that racist chants were audible in certain sections of the Khimki Arena crowd. Touré said after the game that he made referee Ovidiu Hațegan aware of the incident as it occurred (pictured).
According to UEFA regulations, Hațegan could have stopped the match and asked for a stadium announcement to be made, demanding that the chanting stop. He decided to continue to match.
“Disciplinary proceedings have been opened against PFC CSKA Moskva for racist behaviour of their fans (article 14 of the UEFA disciplinary regulations) and for setting off of fireworks (article 16) at last night’s UEFA Champions League group stage match in Moscow against Manchester City FC,” a UEFA statement read. “The case will be dealt with by the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body on 30 October.”
Sanctions for racism this year from UEFA have included fines ranging from €5,000 to €50,000 and partial to full stadium closures for one or multiple matches. However, UEFA recently claimed it would crack down on incidents of racism, and clubs would no longer be subjected to just small fines.
“Maybe they could ban the stadium, I don’t know, for a couple of years or a couple of months,” Touré said after the game (via The Guardian). “UEFA have to take action to right it. Otherwise, they will just continue.”
Touré later said that players could boycott the 2018 World Cup in Russia if the country does not take drastic steps to stamp out racism. FIFA has a lot invested in Russia, as it does with any nation that hosts the World Cup, and has been unwilling to say anything contrary to its future host.
CSKA Moscow denied that any racist behavior took place in its stadium, although it issued an apology in the same 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,” the statement reads. “It is also important that in the whole history of participation in European cups, our club has never been observed or punished for racist behavior of fans. In any case, we regret the incident, although believe that the accusations of racism are unfounded. PFC CSKA has always actively fought and will continue to fight against racism.”
Instead of another slap on the wrist in the form of a minimal fine and partial stadium closure (which is usually the extent of a first-time punishment), perhaps it’s time for UEFA to ban countries with a history of racist behavior, or at least impose full stadium closures for the duration of continental competitions.