MOSCOW, September 28. /TASS/. Alleged issue of racism manifestations during matches of the Russian football championship is factitious, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told journalists on Monday.
"In case the facts of racism [manifestations] in football are proved, then appropriate sanctions would be issued in regard to the guilty parties," Mutko, who is also the president of the Russian Football Union (RFU) and a member of the FIFA Executive Committee, told journalists.
"As of now, the problem of racism in the Russian football is purely fictitious," Mutko added.
The statement from the Russian sports minister comes in the wake of September 29 match of the Russian Football Premier League (RFPL) between Spartak Moscow FC and Zenit St. Petersburg FC.
The match ended with 2:2 draw and Zenit’s Brazilian forward Hulk stated that he was blowing kisses to spectators after the game in response to racist manifestations in regard to him.
Artur Grigoryants, the chairman of the RFU Disciplinary Committee, earlier stated that no cases of racism manifestations were registered by the delegates of the match in their reports regarding Hulk.
Sports Minister Mutko said that "the RFPL has a specialist dealing with race-hatred manifestation issues and his duty is watch every match attentively."
"We have strict measures regarding the racism manifestations, including the earned points’ strip-off," Mutko said. "FIFA has already come up with harsher punishments for racism manifestations. We will be working further in this direction."
"Penalties will definitely follow if facts of racism manifestations were proved," the senior Russian sports official said.
"As of now, it is hard for me to assess the situation over Hulk," Mutko said. "The game was held and the player simply stated that he had been intimidated. I believe it was all factitious."
The RFU’s Disciplinary Committee had been very active imposing penalties on domestic football clubs for their fans misconduct, which often manifested race-hatred behavior, during the games.
Security and fans behavior during football matches is under close attention of the Russian football authorities also because the country is in full swing preparations for hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2018.
Russia won the bid to host the 2018 World Cup over four years ago in a tight race against the joint bid from England, Portugal and Spain and the joint bid on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands.
Russia selected 11 host cities to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.
The matches of the 2018 World Cup will be held between June 14 and July 15 at 12 stadiums located in the 11 mentioned above cities across Russia. Two of the stadiums are located in the Russian capital.