France’s Paul Pogba, right, duels for the ball with Russia’s Fyodor Smolov during the international friendly soccer match between Russia and France at the Saint Petersburg stadium in St.Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, March 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

France’s Paul Pogba, right, duels for the ball with Russia’s Fyodor Smolov during the international friendly soccer match between Russia and France at the Saint Petersburg stadium in St.Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, March 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

FIFA to probe Russian racism against France players

FIFA has opened an investigation after France soccer team players were racially abused by fans in Russia

FIFA has opened an investigation after France national soccer team players were racially abused by fans in Russia, less than three months before the country hosts the World Cup.

Monkey chants could be heard from the crowd in St. Petersburg on Tuesday when black French players touched the ball in a friendly against Russia. The abuse was also audible on a TV broadcast after Paul Pogba scored France’s second goal in a 3-1 win.

FIFA said Wednesday in a statement it was collecting evidence and would contact the anti-discrimination Fare Network, which helps world soccer’s governing body investigate racism cases.

“FIFA is collecting the different match reports and potential evidence in regards to the discriminatory incident reported in the media,” FIFA said in a statement. “Until we have evaluated all information available, we cannot comment further.”

French Sports Minister Laura Flessel also called for action.

“Racism has no place on the soccer field,” Flessel wrote on Twitter alongside a picture of the French team. “We should act together at a European and international level in order to stop this intolerable behaviour.”

Flessel didn’t comment directly on the chants at Tuesday’s game.

Fare said the incidents in St. Petersburg highlight shortcomings in how Russia has prepared for the World Cup.

“If photographers heard it pitch-side, then there must have been stewards and other officials who also heard it,” Fare Network executive director Piara Powar said. “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.

Related: Toronto mayor wants city to co-host 2026 FIFA World Cup

“So close to the World Cup, questions are being asked as to why it wasn’t dealt with as it occurred during play.”

It’s the third racism case this season at St. Petersburg Stadium, which will host a World Cup semifinal match. Zenit St. Petersburg has twice faced UEFA charges for racism by its fans in Europa League games.

Zenit fans flew a banner praising convicted war criminal Ratko Mladic when playing a Macedonian club in November and are accused of using a racially charged term to mock an injured black player in a game against Leipzig. The second case is due to be heard by UEFA on May 31, two weeks before the World Cup begins.

Related: Canadian women move to No. 4 in FIFA world rankings

___

Ellingworth reported from Moscow. AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed to this report.

Dmitri Lovetsky And James Ellingworth, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole speaks during a virtual South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce town hall on Saturday, March 6, 2021.
O’Toole says South Surrey, White Rock face ‘acute’ challenges during pandemic

Federal Conservative leader speaks at local chamber town hall

A sign encouraging COVID-19 safety steps, with the Bayside rugby clubhouse – located adjacent to Semiahmoo Secondary and the South Surrey track – in background; Jan. 6, 2021. (Photo: Tracy Holmes)
Surrey sees 2,400 new COVID-19 cases in February

This is the lowest monthly increase since last fall

Liberty roses – created by acclaimed rose breeder Brad Jalbert – will be planted in White Rock later this month. (Contributed photo)
‘Liberty Rose’ to be planted along Johnston Road and at White Rock City Hall

Poppy-like rose created by acclaimed rose breeder Brad Jalbert

South Surrey’s Kirk Arsenault has started a new company, Str8laced, that sells cleat wraps that aim to keep athletes’ shoes from coming untied during games and practices. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey sports equipment entrepreneur tying up loose ends before Alberta move

Str8laced wraps keep laces from coming loose in the middle of play, says Kirk Arsenault

Volunteers from Semiahmoo Secondary joined with members of the Lower Mainland Green Team and the White Rock and South Surrey Naturalists Wednesday to remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park. (Contributed photo)
Students, volunteers remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park

Day-long project a collaboration between city, Lower Mainland Green Team

An animated Gordie Hogg introduces his 'Community Connections' videos. (YouTube screenshot)
Community Connections: Gordie Hogg speaks with Denise Stevenson

Former mayor, MP began posting conversations on YouTube in June

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

The family of injured Willoughby resident Ronald Gerald Jesso is hoping someone saw something that will help solve the mystery of how he came to be so badly hurt on the morning of Feb. 22. Jesso is still in hospital. (Jesso family/Special to Langley Advance Times)
An appeal to help solve the mystery of an injured Langley man

Family of Ronald Gerald Jesso asks witnesses to come forward

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Most Read