Russia eyes ape chant solution for World Cup

MOSCOW • Russian football's anti-racism chief wants the World Cup hosts to start using fan identity cards to combat monkey chants. Ape noises have turned into one of the most serious dilemmas facing Russia in the run-up to the June 14-July 15 showpiece.

Fans who get tickets must also apply for a special identity card with Russian authorities and security services will conduct background checks with the help of their foreign counterparts.

Supporters' identities will also be matched up against closed-circuit television screen grabs taken when they first enter the stadium.

And anti-discrimination inspector Alexei Smertin said on Monday that the system should also be applied to domestic games to enable the Russian football federation to start zeroing in on specific offenders instead of issuing blanket penalties to teams.

Russia first tried out the system with the approval of Fifa, football's world governing body, at last year's Confederations Cup.

"I am in favour of the Russian championship using the Fan ID system, just as we did at the Cup.

"There were no incidents during that tournament. Every fan understood that if something happened, that person would have been easily identified," he said.

Racial abuse incidents have blighted the sport in Russia, with anti-discrimination network Football Against Racism in Europe reporting 89 racist and far-right cases in the 2016-17 season.

Fifa launched disciplinary proceedings against Russia over monkey chants heard during a friendly against France in March, but the police have yet to take action and no Russian supporter has yet to be banned from a stadium this year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2018, with the headline 'Russia eyes ape chant solution for World Cup'. Print Edition | Subscribe