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PSV Eindhoven FC hopes racially-tinted banana-tossing prankster is nabbed

September 29, 17:58 UTC+3 MOSCOW
During the UEFA Champions League’s match between PSV and Rostov one of Russian club’s fans cast a banana into the pitch
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MOSCOW, September 29. /TASS, Artyom Kuznetsov, Maxim Allanazarov, Yevgeny Ionov/. Dutch football club PSV Eindhoven has always been a staunch opponent of any manifestation of racism, both in sports and in the world, and hopes that the person behind the recent banana incident during the club’s away match on Tuesday against Russia’s Rostov FC would be identified and punished, the club’s spokesman told TASS on Wednesday.

During the UEFA Champions League’s match between Group D clubs PSV and Rostov on Tuesday night in Russia’s southern city of Rostov-on-Don one of Russian club’s fans cast a banana into the pitch of the 15,900-seat capacity stadium Olimp-2.

"We do hope that this person will be punished for this, because this is not what we want to see in the world and also not in football," PSV Eindhoven's spokesman Thijs Slegers said in an interview with TASS.

"We hope to kick racism out of football," he said. "Actions like this - throwing out a banana on the pitch - do not help."

Asked whether the Dutch club would also like to push for sanctions against the Russian football club as well over the incident, Slegers said, "No, that’s UEFA’s job, not ours."

"We only want to make statement that we are fully against racism in the football," he said adding that the Russian side did everything to prevent such incidents as it had pledged before the match, but it was practically impossible to control everyone in the stands.

"The club was very clear before the game," he said. "They said they would do practically everything together with the local police to avoid these incidents. They were not able to avoid everything."

"There was a meeting before the game and in that meeting racism in football, as always, was an issue to talk about," PSV spokesman said. "Everybody pointed how important this is and Rostov told they would do everything to organize the game well."

"Unfortunately, one person took a banana with him and threw it on the pitch," Slegers added.

Commenting on the incident during the match, which ended with 2-2 draw, Alexei Sorokin, the director general of Russia’s Local Organizing Committee (LOC) in charge of preparations for 2018 FIFA World Cup, said it was an isolated incident and was unlikely to be repeated in the future.

"To be honest, we never had such incidents in recent years," Sorokin said in an interview with TASS. "Jointly with the RFU (Russian Football Union) we are closely monitoring this issue (of racism manifestations), but it seems that it is impossible to be exercising control over every individual at spectators stands."

"I believe that this incident in Rostov was of an isolated nature and it would be never repeated in the future," the senior football official added.

Security and fans’ behavior before, during and after football matches has been on the radar of Russia’s football authorities as the country is currently moving into full swing preparations for hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2018.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who is also the president of the Russian Football Union (RFU), announced earlier in the week the need of setting up an association uniting all fans’ movements of Russian football clubs.

The previous All-Russian Fans Union (ARFU), established in 2007 and led by Alexander Shprygin, was officially disbanded by a decision made over the weekend at the RFU Conference in Moscow.

The decision to disband the ARFU was made following mass violent disturbances involving Russian football fans during the 2016 UEFA Euro Cup held in France this summer.

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