Racism row 'smear campaign'

Michel Platini (AFP)
Michel Platini (AFP)

London - A leading official from Russian side CSKA Moscow has claimed that accusations of racism against the club's fans are the result of a British "smear campaign".

CSKA have been charged by European governing body UEFA after Manchester City's Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure complained that he was subjected to monkey chants during his side's mid-week Champions League victory in Moscow.

UEFA president Michel Platini has also called for an inquiry into the incident, but CSKA general director Roman Babayev says that it has been "exaggerated" by the British media.

"The British do constantly try to find any reason to smear Russian football. It is totally possible that in this case we're running into this same intention," Babayev told Saturday's edition of the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

"I read the main English publications and they are raising a real hysteria. They are writing that the fans wanted to almost lynch the dark-skinned players on the field. And most journalists probably didn't even watch the match."

Platini says that Romanian match referee Ovidiu Hategan failed to observe correct protocol as he did not ask for an appeal to supporters to stop the chanting to be broadcast inside the stadium during the game.

UEFA is scheduled to release the results of its investigation once the disciplinary case against CSKA has been assessed by its disciplinary body on Wednesday.

Babyev added: "We are preparing a legal argument. We're not denying the problem of racism on the whole, including at Russian stadiums, but in this case it seems that the situation is exaggerated.

"The match delegate didn't hear any outburst of racism toward Yaya Toure and so, of course, didn't document any during the course of the match."

Toure has rejected accusations that he fabricated his claims, telling the BBC World Service: "I am not deaf. Other people must have seen it."

He also raised the prospect of black players boycotting the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but FIFA president Sepp Blatter believes that would be counter-productive.

"It (racism) will stop, I tell you, but it is not only about what FIFA can do," Blatter told Oxford University students during an address at the Oxford Union, in quotes reported by the Daily Telegraph.

"FIFA has six confederations and 209 national associations and they have to take responsibility, too. And in the case of Toure it is about UEFA. He suggested a boycott, but a boycott has never been any solution.

"We have already seen boycotts of the Olympic Games, and what was the result? Nothing - because if you have a problem, you cannot run away from it. The problem is still there. You have to solve it, and we know this."

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