Here’s an ignorant statement for the ages, one that even the most pro-Russia honk can scoff at with confidence.
Russian soccer mainstay Alexei Smerlin was a more than respectable player, earning 55 caps for his country and enjoying a club career that included stops at Fulham, Dynamo Moscow and Chelsea.
His social views, however, are questionable, and he’s a politician now in Russia. And as much as we understand Russians defending the accusations their country faces in regards to racism, corruption and the 2018 World Cup, to deny that racism exists in a country is a whole other story.
And it’s the story being spun by Smerlin.
“There’s no racism in Russia, because it does not exist,” Smertin told the BBC’s World Football programme.
“Racism in Russia is like fashion. It comes from abroad, from different countries,” he said. “It was never, ever here before. Ten years ago, some fans may have given a banana to black guys – it was just for fun.”
Fun! Wacky! Zany!
Fortunately, the BBC also has comments from several black players who’ve found themselves more than offended in Russia, including Andre Bikey. The Cameroonian back for Charlton Athletic shared his stories about carrying a gun while playing in Russia after being jumped.
And also fortunately, a Russian CEO tried to frame it a better way than Smerlin.
“We quite naturally acknowledge the problem that clearly does not exist only in Russia, but many other countries,” said 2018 World Cup chief executive officer Alexei Sorokin in response.”
That’s the way you play, for future reference. “Yes there’s racism in my country, but we’re not an outlying and unruly nation of monsters” is cool.
“There’s no racism here, and it’s a media construct” is not.