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FIFA charges Russia over fan racism during friendly vs. France

FIFA Logo
FIFA has charged Russia over fan racism in the friendly against France at St. Petersburg.

FIFA on Tuesday charged World Cup hosts Russia over fan racism during their friendly against France, while law enforcement agencies say they thwarted an alleged "extermist" plot by to derail the event this summer.

Monkey chants were aimed at France players including midfielder Paul Pogba as France won in St. Petersburg last month.

"Disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the Russian Football Union for this incident," FIFA said on Tuesday.

The Russian Football Union (RFU) said it was cooperating with the FIFA investigation.

"A request has been made to the Interior Ministry to identify several persons who were involved in these incidents," RFU anti-discrimination officer Alexei Smertin was quoted as saying by the Tass news agency. "If these people's guilt is proven, then there's a high likelihood they won't be allowed to attend World Cup and Russian league games."

Russia was previously charged with racist behaviour by fans at the last two European Championships. On both occasions, the RFU paid a fine.

It is the third racism case at St. Petersburg Stadium, which will host a World Cup semifinal match, this season. Zenit St. Petersburg have twice faced UEFA charges over racism by fans in Europa League games.

Zenit fans flew a banner praising convicted war criminal Ratko Mladic when playing a Macedonian club in November and are accused of using a racially charged term to mock an injured black player in a game against Leipzig. The second case is due to be heard by UEFA on May 31, two weeks before the World Cup begins.

Meanwhile, Russia's chief prosecutor said agencies stopped an alleged plot by right-wing football fans to disrupt World Cup events in the city of Samara on the Volga River.

Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika's report to the upper house of parliament said the suspected organisers -- described only as "extremists" -- envisaged engaging members of the radical fan group T.O.Y.S. Chaika's report released by Tass on Tuesday didn't elaborate on the actions the perpetrators planned to take.

The radical nationalist group was outlawed by a Russian court last year on charges of fomenting extremist sentiments. Known for its hard-line nationalist views and conflicts with other fan groups, T.O.Y.S. is a faction of fans of the second-tier club Krylya Sovetov Samara.

Local media reported last year that a leader of T.O.Y.S., Evgeny Gavrilov, was given a suspended prison sentence and banned from attending football games after being accused of propagandizing far-right ideology. Members of the group reportedly have also been accused of attacking migrants.

Samara is one of 11 host cities for the June 14-July 15 tournament and will host six games, including a quarterfinal. Russia, Colombia, Senegal and Australia are among the teams due to play there in the group stage.

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