UEFA punishes CSKA Moscow for fans’ racist chants

CSKA Moscow will have to play its next home European Champions League match with Bayern Munich in a partially closed stadium as punishment after its fans racially abused Manchester City’s Yaya Toure during a game on October 23.

The Union of European Football Associations’ (UEFA) disciplinary panel charged the Russian club after Ivorian midfielder Toure complained that he heard the offensive chants by home fans during City’s 2-1 win at the Arena Khimki stadium outside Moscow.  

UEFA found CSKA Moscow guilty for the “racist behavior” of its supporters and ordered the closure of the stadium’s sector D for its next home game in the UEFA Champions League, scheduled to take place on November 27.

“The fight against racism is a high priority for UEFA,” the organization said in a statement published on Wednesday.

“The European governing body has a zero tolerance policy towards racism and discrimination on the pitch and in the stands. All forms of racist behavior are considered serious offences against the disciplinary regulations and are punished with the most severe sanctions.”

Following the entry into force of the new disciplinary regulations on 1 June, the fight against racist conduct has been stepped up a level – resulting in more severe sanctions to deter any such behavior,” the statement continues.

Commenting on the news, CSKA general director Roman Babayev called the punishment “minimal” but refused to admit that racial abuse had taken place.   

It has not been proven,” he told ITAR-TASS, stating that the team had mixed feelings over the ruling. “We do understand that we could have been punished more severely given the aggressive campaign launched by the British media.”

CSKA said it might not appeal the decision, as it respects the football governing body. The team is still waiting to receive the full text of the order.

Toure, who captained City for the game, said earlier that he was “furious” about the monkey-chants he heard from CSKA supporters. He demanded that UEFA react to the incident in order to prevent such behavior in the future.

“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 color of skin will always be in the same position,” he said after the match at Arena Khimki. “Maybe they could ban the stadium, I don’t know, for a couple of years or a couple of months,” he added.

City boss Manuel Pellegrini said he did not hear the chants, but described them as “stupid things” and “a pity.” He also urged UEFA to take action against the Russian club.

CSKA officials said they were “surprised and disappointed” by Toure’s claims about alleged racial abuse. The club said it carefully studied the video of the game and found no racist insults from fans.

CSKA striker Seydou Doumbia, also an Ivorian national, noted after the game that his colleague was exaggerating.

I didn't hear anything like that from the CSKA fans...Yes, they're always noisy in supporting the team, and try to put as much pressure as possible on our opponents, but they wouldn't ever allow themselves to come out with racist chants. So my Ivory Coast colleague is clearly exaggerating.”

Football commentator Vladimir Stognienko believes the UEFA decision has caused the entire football association pay for the mistake of a single person.

"Yaya Toure may have heard somebody shouting something; incidents like that happen from time to time. But it's not a sign of widespread racism, rather that some individual fans lack a certain culture,” Stognienko told RT.

Let's not forget that UEFA is a European organization and Europe is touchy when it comes to any form of racism. UEFA calls for a show of friendship on the field, but it's difficult to prevent random incidents carried out by random individuals."