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World Cup 2018: Pogba, Dembele Suffer ‘Racist’ Chants In Russia

France’s sport minister has called for an investigation into alleged racist abuse directed at players during their 3-1 win over Russia.

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba and Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele are said to be among those subject to taunts.

The match was played the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg, a host venue at this summer’s World Cup.

“Racism has no place on the football pitch,” said French Minister for Sport Laura Flessel.

“We have to act in unison at a European and international level to put an end to these inadmissible actions.”

The issue was first reported by photographers from news agency AFP, who said they heard chants when players went to take corners.

It is the latest in a number of incidents of discrimination linked to Russia.

In October Uefa charged Spartak Moscow for racist chanting during a Uefa Youth League fixture against Liverpool, and the club were later criticised for a “racist” tweet about their own players.

The FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) network monitors discrimination in football on a national scale and detailed close to 90 incidents of racism in the Russian league last season.

Piara Powar, head of the organisation, feels the actions that marred France’s win raise concerns about fan and player safety during the World Cup.

“For us, the key issue is that the match took place at a stadium that will host one of biggest games during the World Cup, a semi-final will be there, plus many group games,” he told BBC Sport.

“In many ways this match was a test of the protocols that the Russian FA has put in place, it was a match governed by the Russian FA.

“This is a cause for concern, just over two months before the tournament, with no response from the stadium authorities after what looked to be a major incident.”

Russian football’s anti-discrimination chief Alexei Smertin has insisted that minorities will feel “safe and comfortable”, and dismissed fears as “propaganda”.

The hosts’ team coach Stanislav Cherchesov added that “I do not think we have racism on a scale that needs to be fought” earlier this month.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino says that officials can stop or even abandon matches at the World Cup if racism occurs.

However Powar is concerned Lithuanian referee Gediminas Mazeika did not act in the friendly on Tuesday.

“The referee will have been a Fifa designated referee, clearly he didn’t initiate the protocols that exist. Though it is not his primary responsibility, he had powers others do not.

“It was a failure of protocols and actions should have taken places in the match.”


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