CSKA Moscow partial stadium ban is a joke

Posted by Susie Schaaf

To watch the YouTube video is horrifying: Yaya Toure captained Manchester City in CSKA Moscow's Arena Khimki for their Champions League group stage match on Oct. 23. Cameras cut to the CSKA ultras, shirtless, making monkey noises and making monkey-armed gestures -- inexplicable when you see that Moscow's roster currently consists of three black players in Nigeria's Ahmed Musa, Brazil's Vitinho and Ivory Coast's Seydou Doumbia.

Toure complained to Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan, but he did nothing about it. UEFA guidelines specify that referees "stop the match and ask for a public address system announcement to be made" when racist chants or gestures occur. Toure -- bless him -- continued to play, regardless of the abuse being hurled at him, and Manchester City came out eventual 2-1 winners.

-Partial stadium closure for CSKA Moscow
-Schweinsteiger eyes Champions League history

UEFA launched an investigation against CSKA Moscow and released their punishment. Mr. Hategan was absolved of wrong-doing, but the stadium announcer was relieved of his job for failing to read the announcement.

UEFA said their disciplinary body ordered the closure of Sector D of the Arena Khimki for the club’s next Champions League game against Bayern Munich on Nov. 27: "The fight against racism is a high priority for UEFA. The European governing body has a zero tolerance policy towards racism and discrimination on the pitch and in the stands."

The Arena Khimki holds just over 18,000 spectators, but fails to sell out on a regular basis. Figures from the 2012-13 Russian Premiere League place the club with an average of 14,397 spectators per match. Looking at a schematic of the stadium, one can surmise that Sector D is the Ultras end stand that holds what, possibly 4,000? Can these same spectators purchase tickets elsewhere in the Arena? Presumably those seats will be available as the crowd for City was between 14 and 15,000.

If that's the case, dispersing racism throughout the stadium does nothing to decrease racism. And in fact, may make it worse. Yes, there is football's "Kick It Out" campaign, but what has it really done to stop the chants, the gestures, the banana displays in European football?

UEFA now levies fines, but in this case the fine is an absolute joke. CSKA Moscow won't collect a gate from tickets they probably wouldn't have sold anyway -- where is the punishment in that? My Rekordmeister podcast co-host, Bavarian Football Works writer Scott Schroder, and I had a segment about this issue in our latest edition wondering what it could all mean for Bayern Munich to have to play in that stadium.

I fret, and feel, for David Alaba, Dante and Jerome Boateng. Not only do they-- and the team as a whole-- have to play on a nasty, painted pitch, but they also have to play with the constant threat of insult from the home support.

Bayern Munich, despite their reputation, are a close-knit bunch. And my fervent hope is that the rest of the team, and the fabulous away support, can perhaps be a buffer from insult and injury likely to be shown to the trio next month.


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