SRtRC's international partners condemn actions of fans, club director whilst highlighting the need to adhere to existing procedures to challenge racism in football
"The first step must be that of recognition from football authorities that such abuses are not the fault of the player, and that a player should not be in a situation where they have been abused in the first place."
FIFPro condemns the treatment of Emmanuel Frimpong at the hands of supporter(s) attending last weekend’s opening match of the Russian Premier League, between Spartak Moscow and FC Ufa.
It is unacceptable that a human being should be subject to discrimination and racial abuse while fulfilling his job obligations in a working environment. It is particularly concerning that incidents of this nature continue to be reported in Russia, which will host the 2018 World Cup.
During the 30th minute of this game, Frimpong, playing his first match with Ufa, engaged in a battle for the ball near a corner flag. As the referee blew his whistle, Frimpong gave a rude gesture to an individual in the stands as well as used some inappropriate language.
FIFPro understands Frimpong’s response but encourages players subject to any abuse during a match to immediately report it to match officials and place the responsibility on them to deal with it. However, Frimpong’s actions to not discount in any shape the heinous behavior which he was subject to.
Regrettably, this is not the first incident regarding racism which has arisen from Russia.
Comments made by Hulk, a Brazilian player currently playing for Zenit St. Petersburg and one of the most prominent players currently playing in Russia, echo the concerns that Frimpong and others have voiced about racism in Russia.
“I must say that almost every game I see this happening,” Hulk said referring to racial abuse during football matches, “If (racism) happens in the World Cup, it will be really gross and really ugly.”
"I used to get angry, but now I see this doesn't help, so I just send a kiss to our fans and try not to get angry."
Russia has three years before the World Cup in which to tackle these issues, which must not be brushed off anymore.
“It is a problem in the country and more needs to be done in terms of education to solve this and other related issues,” says Secretary General of the Russian Players’ Union, Nikolai Grammatikov.
More must be done to ensure footballers worldwide, but particularly in Russia, are shielded from racial abuse and are able to do to their job in an environment free from discrimination.
All football authorities, chiefly those within Russia, must demonstrate their commitment to removing this scourge from the game. No player, as Hulk describes, should need to develop contingencies in order to ‘deal’ with racism while honouring the commitments of their contract.
The current three step plan which is in place must be constantly evaluated in order to ensure effectiveness and discussions regarding innovative new measures which can be put in place must be ongoing.
The first step must be that of recognition from football authorities that such abuses are not the fault of the player, and that a player should not be in a situation where they have been abused in the first place.
Comments attributed to Shamil Gazizov, the general director of Ufa, are disgraceful and contribute to the wider problem.
Gazizov is alleged to have said that, “What Frimpong did was wrong. Sometimes you even have to hold back the tears and just put up with it.”
In a country which will host the sport’s most prestigious event just three short years from now, these comments cast a worrying precedent and questions the commitment of Russian authorities to thoroughly stamp out racist and discriminatory behavior in football stadia.
“Show Racism the Red Card is dismayed by this latest act of racism within Russian football and is disappointed by the lack of focus on the societal conditions within the country that appear to support the existence of this type of behaviour.” says Ged Grebby, Chief Executive of anti-racism organisation Show Racism the Red Card.
“To aim monkey chants at a person because of the colour of their skin is an extreme example of dehumanisation; one which has been used throughout history to create systematic oppression and establish distinctions which have contributed to the development of the myth of race.”
“The lack of support for Emmanuel Frimpong from his club, as suggested by the statements attributed to General Director Shamil Gazizov is staggering and is indicative of a lack of understanding about racism and it effects. It also completely undermines attempts to impose a zero tolerance policy towards racism in all its forms.”
“The history of this type of incident within other countries suggests that these attitudes are being carried over from other areas of society into football stadia; they are not unique to football and should not be the sole responsibility of footballing authorities to challenge in isolation.”
“Show Racism the Red Card believes that until such prejudice is reduced within Russian society as a whole, racism such as that targeted at Emmanuel Frimpong will continue. Individuals must be educated about why such behaviour is so offensive and awareness must be raised about the consequences of acting in this way.”
FIFPro remains open to engage in productive discussions on these issues to ensure an equitable and comfortable working environment for all footballers within Russia and other countries troubled by these abuses.