…monkey chants from Russians
Yaya Touré has called on Uefa to take tough action against CSKA Moscow, including the possibility of closing their stadium for a couple of years, after sections of the Russian club’s supporters subjected the Manchester City captain to racist abuse on Wednesday night. The monkey chants, which Touré reported to the referee during the game, overshadowed a crucial 2-1 victory for Manuel Pellegrini‘s side.
Touré was visibly upset after the match and made it clear that Uefa needs to adopt a strong stance to stamp out behaviour which he described as “stupid” and “very, very sad”. A spokesperson for City confirmed the club had lodged a complaint with the Uefa delegate at the match and will follow that up in writing. Uefa is also aware that the referee has mentioned Touré’s complaints in his report.
“I’m not just disappointed, I’m furious,” Touré said. “I’m very, very disappointed about what those fans have done today and I think Uefa have to take action because players with the same colour of skin will always be in the same position. For me, as captain, I was wearing an armband which said ‘No to racism’ and I was totally disappointed.
“I want to see Uefa do something and take some action. We have to be as strong as possible, otherwise they will continue like that. Maybe they could ban the stadium, I don’t know, for a couple of years or a couple of months.”
Touré added: “The club may say they have to educate the fans but I think it’s enough; too much is too much. We have to stop it now. It’s stupid these people. I don’t know, it just happens in football. It’s unbelievable. Uefa have to take action to right it, otherwise they will just continue.”
On Wednesday Uefa relaxed a punishment handed down to Lazio for racist chanting during a Europa League game against Legia Warsaw in September. The Serie A club were originally ordered to play their next home match in the tournament behind closed doors but, on appeal, have been allowed to shut only the Curva Nord.
Legia were ordered by Uefa to close part of their stadium this season for a match after racist behaviour by their fans.
Pellegrini did not hear the chants aimed at Touré but the City manager was made aware of the incidents after the match. “I didn’t know what happened. Someone just told me there were some shouts against our player, it is a pity that we still have those stupid things,” he said. “I hope that the right message can be put out. It’s a pity for Yaya and a pity for the city [of Moscow].”
Under Uefa guidelines the referee, Ovidiu Hategan, should have stopped the match and asked for a message to be relayed on the public address demanding the racist behaviour stop.
The injured City defender Vincent Kompany, who did not play, tweeted: “Racist chants again in Moscow today. We’ve all said enough.” He added that “all eyes” were now on Uefa, the Russian government and CSKA.
With the World Cup finals taking place in Russia in 2018, this latest incident will come as an embarrassment to the country and Fifa, as well as Uefa. Russia has not been without its problems in the past in relation to racism, with Roberto Carlos, Christopher Samba and Peter Odemwingie among those players at the centre of high-profile cases. City have also been in this position before, when Mario Balotelli was racially abused in Porto last year. The Portuguese club were fined £16,000.
For Pellegrini there was at least some comfort to be taken from what happened on the pitch here, where two Sergio Agüero goals, after Zoran Tosic had given CSKA the lead against the run of play, secured three vital points for City. Another win against CSKA at the Etihad Stadium in a fortnight’s time will almost certainly guarantee City’s place in the knockout stage of the Champions League for the first time.
“It was a very important victory,” Pellegrini said. “I said yesterday that the team that wins today will have a lot of chances to go to the next round. It’s not the last match of the group but now we have to play the next two games at home and that’s where we can decide to qualify for the round of 16, which is very important for us,” Pellegrini said. “I am very happy with the performance. Playing football on this pitch was very difficult. We showed character, concentration and intensity.”