„Unser Mann in Moskau“ bleibt auch inhaltlich in der russischen Hauptstadt. Im zweiten Teil der Kolumne auch gleich mit zwei Beiträgen. Guter Mann! Der erste Artikel beschäftigt sich mit Hulk und den Fans von Torpedo Moskau. Superkräfte gegen Rassismus wären schon etwas Feines. ZISCH BOOM BANG!
Torpedo punished over Hulk abuse
Fans of Torpedo Moscow have been accused in the latest racism scandal to emerge from Russia and find its way into the international press, especially in Britain.
The uproar follows alleged racist chanting in the form of monkey noises directed at the Brazilian international and Zenit striker Hulk. The incident occurred during Torpedo’s 1-1 home draw with the St. Petersburg side on 15 March, while the striker was taking a corner in front of the main Torpedo fan bloc.
For their part, Torpedo fans denied that any racist chanting took place during the game, claiming that the alleged chanting was in fact a show of support for the striker by a number Zenit’s own fans mixed into the home support. A statement from the head of the Torpedo supporters’ club, Vasiliy Petrakov, asserted that the Zenit fans in question were actually shouting “Hulk, Hulk, Hulk” and that “Hulk heard this, since he then blew a kiss and waved to them.”
The fan statement was followed by comments from Torpedo’s vice-president, Boris Ignatiev, who also claimed the accusations had no substance, stating “I heard nothing. They’ve already tried to punish us on a few occasions but, in actual fact, whereas the fans used to abuse the leadership of the club, they behave themselves these days!” He went on to say that the club are engaged in discussions with fans but that there are some small “extremist” groups among the support who “constantly engage in hooliganism.” He further urged authorities to explore legal options for controlling fans, citing the example of England’s banning orders directed at known hooligans, since “[o]therwise, we could have problems with fans [during the World Cup] in 2018.”
Torpedo officials and fans had good reason to deny any involvement in racist activities since the club has faced punishment in the past for off-field disorder. However, prospects for avoiding the potential deduction of three points did not look good ahead of the hearing on 18 March, particularly in light of comments made by Russian Premier League (RFPL) Executive Director, Sergei Cheban, who happened to be at the game and said “There was racist chanting, certainly, when Hulk went to take the corner! How can you explain to people that they are acting inappropriately? They don’t understand what they’ve done. They chanted and they lost control.”
In spite of Cheban’s comments, a hearing of the RFPL’s disciplinary commission on Wednesday decided against punishing Torpedo with a points deduction for the abuse, despite this being the club’s ‘third strike’, and despite league rules providing for such a punishment in this case. The league instead opted for an enhanced second-degree punishment, meaning that the club must play its next two league games behind closed doors.
Torpedo Moscow is a historically significant club, having been founded in 1924. The club enjoyed its greatest success in the 1960s and 1970s, winning 3 national titles between 1960 and 1976. However, the club fell into dispute with its long-term backer during the 1990s and was forced to leave its historic stadium to play at the much larger Luzhniki, which fans struggled to fill. After suffering two relegations in the 2000s and facing further administrative and financial intrigue, as well as a season playing in the local amateur league, Torpedo finally returned to the RFPL in 2014. They are currently playing home games in Ramenskoye, outside of Moscow, in the former stadium of the defunct Saturn Moscow.
Sources: (in Russian)
Tula fans dismayed after game moved to Moscow
Fans of Arsenal Tula have taken to the internet to voice their dismay following a surprise decision by the RFPL and Russian Football Union (RFS) to move their forthcoming home game against CSKA Moscow to the capital.
The match against the current Russian champions, set to be played on 21 March, was shifted to Moscow by a joint commission of the RFPL and RFS. The game will now take place in Lokomotiv Stadium, the home of Lokomotiv Moscow, one of two reserve stadia named by the Tula club before the start of the season.
The stated reason for the decision was the deficient state of the pitch in Tula’s Arsenal Stadium. However, an RFPL inspection team only arrived at the ground the day after the decision was made, ostensibly to check the club’s access control systems. The inspection team then asked the ground staff to remove the covers on the pitch, but were told that this would interfere with the recovery of the playing surface.
Arsenal fans, understandably disappointed by the decision, have taken the decision to boycott the game, an action that a fan statement claims defends the interests of “not only Arsenal, but all Russian fan movements, experts and football commentators.” The fans have also won the support of their coach, former Roma and Porto star Dmitri Alenichev, who promised to play the reserve team in the game in question and gave the thumbs up to the fans’ decision to stay away.
The club will now show the CSKA game on a big screen in Arsenal Stadium – with entry free-of-charge. In the meantime, Tula supporters have been taking to Russian social network VKontakte to voice their disapproval for the decision, their support for their coach and to post photos of the current state of the pitch that has been deemed an unfit playing surface.
Arsenal Tula are currently competing in their debut season in the RFPL. The club’s name refers to its home city’s tradition of armament production.
Sources: (in Russian)