What’s Russian for “behind closed doors?”
Spartak Moscow may find out after one of their supporters fired a flare from the end line to the midfield stripe, barely missing referee Deniz Aytekin.
[ MORE: Champions League wrap-up ]
Maribor and Spartak drew 1-1, but UEFA repercussions are almost certainly coming for the Russian visitors.
That could benefit Liverpool, who visits Otkrytiye Arena in Moscow on Sept. 26. The Reds drew Sevilla 2-2 on Wednesday.
With the 2018 World Cup in Russia fast approaching, all eyes are on the host country’s clear issue with racism. It’s been spoken about, discussed, dissected, and analyzed.
The one thing it hasn’t done is go away.
Yet again, Brazilian forward Hulk – one of the most notable and recognizable players in the Russian Premier League – has called out fans in a Russian stadium for racist chants directed at him.
The 29-year-old striker was substituted in stoppage time of a 2-2 draw at Spartak Moscow, and he sarcastically blew kisses to the crowd as he walked off the field. Hulk later confirmed he did that as a response to racist chants he was receiving from the Spartak fans.
“Unfortunately, the same things are happening – racism in the stands,” he said in comments published on Zenit’s official website. “I won’t pay any attention to this, as I have already talked about this. Therefore, I will continue to blow kisses and answer them with the way I play on the pitch. These things don’t even deserve to be discussed.”
As Hulk said, he’s already talked about this. A whole lot. Back in March, racist chants from Torpedo Moscow fans caused Zenit manager Andre Villas-Boas to label the opposing supporters a “disgrace.” In July, Hulk said there are racist chants in “almost every game” in Russia. Former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong was suspended for two matches after showing fans an explicit gesture as a reaction to racist chants.
The Russian Premier League kicked off on Friday and the top story to come out of the weekend was unfortunately racism.
Former Arsenal prospect Emmanuel Frimpong was tossed from Ufa’s match at Spartak Moscow when he reacted to fans hurling monkey noises at him by flipping them the bird and swearing at them.
[ MORE: Van Gaal complains about Sounders’ field ]
Racists 1, Frimpong 0.
And before you even start with a, “Well, players need to be bigger than that”, take a listen to it:
It’s honestly hard to watch, knowing that a human being is at both ends of the abuse. Not to say we’re naive enough to think it never happens, but on opening day for a fan to be that hopped up to put his ignorance and hatred on full display? Brutal. What’s worse? These quotes from Hulk on how he’s rationalized the behavior. From Soccerly:
“In the past I myself felt offended and was really angered with these racist outbreaks. But neither referees nor football officials here pay serious attention to this problem. “That’s why I now try not to get angry. I just blow kisses to those who try to offend me.”
And players in Russia aren’t just upset about it, they are worried about the repercussions for the nation’s clubs if this racism is on display at the World Cup in 2018. Hulk said as much, as did Ezequiel Garay. Perhaps most telling, though, is Frimpong.
Granted the language is a bit broken, but there’s something to him ending with, “We live on.” This is a fairly depressing tale, and I know from past posts that there will be several who jump to the defense of Russia here.
And surely, this happens other places (including here in the U.S.). But in this one, where boycott worries already exist, the dark moments seem a bit more grim.
Former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong was sent off in the Russian Premier League season opener against Spartak Moscow when responding to racial abuse by fans.
With FK Ufa visiting Spartak Moscow, Frimpong slipped and lost the ball before fouling an opponent. Home Spartak fans began taunting Frimpong by shouting monkey chants at the visiting 23-year-old. The Ghanan responded by yelling explitives at the fans and showed them an offensive hand gesture, to which the referee showed him a straight red card in the 32nd minute. Frimpong attempted to explain himself to the assistant referee standing right there, but to no avail.
The 2017 Confederations Cup and the 2018 World Cup is to be held in Russia, and much attention has been given to the country’s seemingly deep-rooted problem with racism. While FIFA has trumpeted minor changes they tout as major improvements, these incidents continue while the clock ticks down to the events.
Frimpong, who came up through the Arsenal youth system and spent three years with the club, responded to the incident on Twitter after the match.
This situation is always difficult players, and many react differently. Some have decided to walk off the field, some react violently, while others have chosen to ignore it and take action after the match. The players are in a difficult position, where fan interaction of any kind is often frowned upon, and in many cases – like Frimpong’s – punished. Therefore, players have little options outside of absorbing the abuse and looking to respond later.
Teams are often punished in the aftermath of such incidents, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Russian Federation come down on Spartak with a stadium closure. But aside from a full cultural overhaul, it’s difficult to control the minds of fans who are barely affected by team punishments. Russia’s issues are clearly deeply engrained in the societal mindset, and there is little FIFA can do to change it at the moment.
You can see video of the incident here, where the racist chants can be clearly heard:
Could Arsenal deadline day signing Kim Kallstrom finally get some playing time for the Gunners when they visit Swansea City on Tuesday?
The Swedish international just may get on the pitch after his controversial transfer hours before the January window closed. Kallstrom, 31, is on loan from Spartak Moscow and arrived in London despite knowledge that he was out for a month with a back microfracture.
And Kallstrom has spoken out on his transfer experience to a Swedish newspaper (loosely translated):
“It was bewildering. It went very quickly. Arsenal took care of me very well. It’s been great care and rehabilitation. It has gone very well.”
Kallstrom was injured playing beach soccer with his Moscow teammates in Abu Dhabi during a break. He said he hopes to make his Arsenal debut on Tuesday, while defender Laurent Koscielny will not play.