Less than a month after the end of a successful hosting of the world’s best players and football playing countries of different colours and race at Russia 2018 World Cup, a capital club is in the news for ‘race-related’ case.
Third division side, Torpedo Moscow, stopped the signing of black player with Russian and Congolese heritage, Erving Botaka-Yobama, following protest from some fans of the club issuing out warnings against the deal.
“Black may be one of our club’s colours, but we only want whites in our ranks,” A group of the club’s fans who go by the title, Zapad-5 Ultras write on Russian social media site, Vkontakte.
The club, however, denies that the deal was cancelled because of the threat but due to transfer fees demanded by Lokomotiv-Kazanka Moscow, the current employer of the 19-year-old.
It wrote on its website (as translated): “On behalf of the leadership of FC Torpedo Moscow, the team and the Fan Club, we declare that the failed transfer of Erving Botaki to our club is due solely to the fact that the “Torpedo” policy during the performances in the PFL does not provide for any compensation for player transfers.
“In our policy of selecting players, we fully adhere to only sports principles, sharing common human values. Once again we state that the skin color was never a criterion when selecting a player for the club. Racism has no right to exist. We adhere to this point of view. In the situation with the failed transfer of Erving Botaki, the issue of payment of compensation was decisive.”
In a condemning vein, head of the All-Russian Union of Footballers, Alexander Zotov, criticised those fans and called them “idiots”
He said: “There have been changes in the minds of people after the World Cup but there is still a group of idiots.
“I read a lot of statements about the football player. Some were openly racist. These people with limited horizons exist in any country. We saw how open our society and people are [during the World Cup].
“There are fans of Torpedo who are normal, and do not welcome the behaviour of that group in relation to Botaka.”
Over the years, Russia and some of its clubs have suffered racist offence sanctions from FIFA and UEFA.