In yesterday’s friendly between France and Russia in St. Petersburg, Russian soccer fans reportedly continued their long and fervent tradition of being super racist to black players by chanting monkey noises at French players Paul Pogba and Ousmane Dembélé. The Associated Press reported that the abuse was “audible on a TV broadcast after Pogba scored France’s second goal in a 3-1 win.”
French sport minister Laura Flessel condemned the behavior on Twitter, calling on international bodies to work together to stop stamp out racism in soccer, and Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) called on FIFA to investigate, according to the AP.
“If photographers heard it pitch-side,” FARE’s Piara Prowar said, alluding to an AFP photographer who reportedly heard the abuse during two Dembélé corner kicks and once after Pogba scored, “then there must have been stewards and other officials who also heard it.
“If, toward the end of March, these guys don’t know what to do, and they’re not initiating procedures and protocols that exist, then that doesn’t bode very well for the World Cup,” Prowar said.
That’s true and it’s also not exactly a shock considering the entire effort to combat racism in soccer has been merely symbolic: In 2016, FIFA shuttered its anti-racism task force because it said it had “completely fulfilled” its mission; the policy FIFA implemented before the 2017 Confederations Cup that allows referees to abandon matches entirely due to racist abuse has been an empty threat; a former Russian soccer player, who once denied that racism existed, was named head of anti-racism for Russia and last year vowed that there would be no racism at the 2018 World Cup.