Russian football and sports institutions to join anti-discrimination conference

The Sports Ministry of the Russian Republic and the Russian FA will host the country's first ever official gathering on racism and discrimination in football this Thursday (4th June) in central Moscow.

The gathering of national football stakeholders, NGOs from across Europe and international governing bodies is being facilitated by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR). The day-long roundtable will include high level political speakers and leaders of the sports establishment with the objective of drawing on international experience.

Issues of discrimination that face Russia domestically in the lead up to its hosting of the 2018 World Cup have come to the fore in recent years as players such as Roberto Carlos, Yaya Touré and Christopher Samba have expressed anger at the racial abuse they have faced during matches in Russia.

There also remains a wider concern over the atmosphere of homophobia created by legislation that limits and marginalises the ability of the LGBT community and therefore has an impact on all cultural gatherings.

In February this year the Fare network published the first systematic study into racism and xenophobia in Russian football with an accompanying recommendations into future action. The report was compiled by the Moscow-based Sova Monitoring Centre, the leading Russian experts who will be in attendance at the meeting.

Piara Powar, Executive Director of the Fare network said, "This is the most significant gathering on issues of discrimination in Russian football so far. It could be a good first step in setting out a clear acceptance of the causes and symptoms of racism and far right extremism, and how it could be challenged. From our perspective the first priority is to agree a clear direction of travel with a plan of action that is accepted and implemented by all actors.

"The OHCHR have worked well with colleagues in Russia, we are pleased that the meeting will include a number of experienced Fare member NGOs who will make presentations on issues they have dealt with in their home countries."

The Fare network member organisations are from Austria (FairPlay-VIDC), Germany (Football Supporters Europe and Show Racism the Red Card) and Poland (Never Again Association).

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