Racist and homophobic chants are on the rise in Russia before the World Cup finals, with LGBT and ethnic minority supporters travelling to the country being issued with details of an emergency WhatsApp helpline to report any issues or request urgent help.
Although overall incidents of discrimination have declined, a report found there has been a spike in the number of discriminatory chants heard inside stadiums in Russia, many of which are being used for games during the World Cup, beginning on June 14th.
The research into discrimination in Russian football was undertaken by the Fare Network and the Moscow-based Sova Centre and was the sixth such report published since 2012. It noted more monkey chants, neo-Nazi songs and anti-Caucasian chants, with 19 cases in the 2017-2018 season compared with two last season and 10 the season before.
Victims included players from the French national team, who were targeted with monkey chants during a game against Russia in March, and the Liverpool youth player Bobby Adekanye, who was racially abused by Spartak Moscow supporters. The Russia national team goalkeeper Guilherme Marinato, a naturalised citizen born in Brazil, was twice targeted by Spartak fans calling him a monkey.
The report also notes a worrying prevalence of homophobia, which it claims is a relatively new form of discrimination inside Russian stadiums, where fans are now labelling opponents “gay” as a means of abuse more often than ever before.
“This is a practice that takes sustenance from state-led homophobia, but has been copied from leagues in western Europe,” the report stated. “These levels of discriminatory chanting indicate that xenophobic views remain deeply rooted among many Russian football fans.”
Piara Powar, the Fare network’s executive director, said: “There are reasons to hope that the World Cup authorities will not allow serious violent incidents to take place by using all the resources of law enforcement agencies and special services.
"However, the football authorities in Russia and Fifa have missed valuable opportunities and time to deliver lasting change in Russia. We hope the spirit that brings people together will keep fans with provocative intentions out of the World Cup, and equality and understanding will be the prevalent story of Russia 2018." – Guardian