Article

Spartak spark racism storm with offensive tweet

13 January 2018 13:23

Russian Premier League side Spartak Moscow have caused controversy by posting a racially insensitive tweet from their warm weather training camp.

A video uploaded to the club's Twitter page that appeared to show Pedro Rocha, Fernando and Luiz Adriano performing stretching exercises in Dubai was captioned: "See how chocolate melt [sic] in the sun".

Rocha, Fernando and Luiz Adriano are all black. The post was later deleted.

It is not the first time this season Spartak have found themselves at the centre of racism claims.

Leonid Mironov, the club's youth-team captain, was last month charged with racist behaviour towards Liverpool's Rhian Brewster during a UEFA Youth League match.

The 19-year-old faces a minimum ban of 10 matches if found guilty by European football's governing body.

After the initial game between the sides in Moscow this season, Liverpool made a complaint after Brewster's team-mate Bobby Adekanye was racially abused by fans.

In October, the Russian Football Union fined Spartak RUB 100,000 (€1,500) following an instance of Islamophobic chanting during a 5-2 win over Spartak Nalchik in the Russian Cup. 

Piara Powar, executive director at the FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) network, labelled racism as a major issue to be addressed in Russia ahead of the World Cup.

"This shows a shocking level of ignorance," said Powar in a statement responding to Spartak's tweet. "For Russia’s biggest club to tolerate and then celebrate racist references of this kind is wrong. 

"They were sanctioned by the Russian FA for Islamophobic chanting but clearly the message has not reached the players or the club management. 

"Racism is one of the biggest issues Russia faces in the year they host the World Cup, references of this kind show how some minorities are seen by some people in the country."

In response to Spartak's post, the UK-based anti-discriminatory body Kick It Out suggested the tweet underlined the prejudices faced by black people in Russia, which will host the World Cup later this year.

"This social media post from the official account of Spartak Moscow only continues to highlight the prejudices towards black people in Russia," read a statement posted on the official Kick It Out Twitter page.

"It is a reminder, that along with the whole of football, there is significant work to do to eradicate racism of all forms from the sport."

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