Guelor Kanga, a Gabon-born footballer based in Russia, was sanctioned by the Russian Football Union for gesturing rudely at an opposing team’s fans after he felt they were racially taunting him.
Kanga, 24, plays for Russian Premier League side FC Rostov who were playing Spartak Moscow last week Thursday when the incident occured. Kanga was targeted with monkey chants by Spartak Moscow fans and responded by showing them his middle finger. The RFU banned him for three matches and slapped him with a 50 00 rubles (roughly $930) fine for the prohibited action.
The opposition club didn’t walk away scot-free however as they were also fined to the tune of 70 000 rubles($1300). Russian football seems to be plagued by issues of racism against black players. Kanga’s own coach, Igor Gamula was banned from the match in question for making derogatory comments about black players in his team.
In September, Dynamo Moscow defender Christopher Samba – a black Frenchman who also plays for the Congo national team, was suspended for two matches after flipping off fans who heckled him with racial insults. Premier League clubs Spartak and Torpedo Moscow have faced racism charges and CSKA Moscow has been punished for fan racism in the Champions League.
Russia is slated to host the 2018 World Cup and one may very well wonder about the possibilities of such incidents occurring then. Football’s governing body, FIFA has stated that it will distribute a handbook of good practices to member associations and will deploy anti-racism officers to qualifying matches in Russia. But as we have seen that fines have done little to deter this unruly behavior, unless these guidelines come with comprehensive consequences, these instances could very well prevail and be the swan song that haunts the 2018 World Cup.