Racism and Hooliganism in Russia

According to the Moscow Times, “Sixty-three football fans aged 13 to 16 were briefly detained last weekend amid drunken clashes that left a dark-skinned man dead and two others injured.” The dead man was Sergei Nikolayev, from Siberia.

The violence came after Spartak Moscow’s win over FK Moscow, but far from the stadium, and the catalyst for the violence seems to be unknown. Given the dead man and his friends were all “dark-skinned”, as the newspaper crudely puts it, a racial motive was brought up as a possibility in the report.

Yet the police spokesman was remarkably quick to rule out that possibility. “This isn’t a hate crime,” he said, the curious proof being that “After all, Nikolayev is a Russian citizen.”

This statement rang a bell with these quotes from a 2003 BBC report.

“We make monkey noises, or call the black players chocolate!” one young fan claims proudly, and his friends laugh in support.

“Russia is for the Russians,” he explains. “Foreign players are fine, but only if they’re white.”

Football journalist Alexander Bogomolov says this is a common reaction.

“The majority of supporters here don’t like black players at all,” he explains.

And it comes just weeks after Spartak were fined for their fans racist behaviour, after they unfurled a banner abusing their own new signing, leading the club to ask for tolerance.

The plea comes after a group of “right-wing” Spartak fans displayed a racist banner at the club’s match at Krylia Sovietov directed at Spartak’s new Brazilian forward, Welliton. The banner read: “The number 11 belongs to Tikhonov. Monkey go home.” Andrei Tikhonov is a former fans’ favourite who wore the number 11 shirt in the 1990s.

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