Russian club deny racism after cancelling deal for black player

Erving Botaka-Yoboma

Russian third-tier side Torpedo Moscow have cancelled plans to sign defender Erving Botaka-Yobama – denying that they have done so because he is black.

Torpedo faced fan protests after announcing the signing of Botaka-Yobama – who is Russian and of Congolese descent – last Saturday.

The club said the deal for the 19-year-old, a former Torpedo youth player, had been cancelled for financial reasons.

“Skin colour is never a criterion when selecting a player,” the club said.

“Racism has no right to exist. We adhere to this point of view.”

The club added that Lokomotiv-Kazanka Moscow, who the player was joining from, had demanded a transfer fee, causing the transfer to be called off.

Earlier in the week, a group of fans known as the Zapad-5 Ultras wrote on Russian social media site Vkontakte: “Black may be one of our club’s colours, but we only want whites in our ranks.”

Those comments were condemned by Alexander Zotov, head of the All-Russian Union of Footballers.

He said: “There have been changes in the minds of people after the World Cup but there is still a group of idiots.

“I read a lot of statements about the football player. Some were openly racist. These people with limited horizons exist in any country. We saw how open our society and people are [during the World Cup].”

“There are fans of Torpedo who are normal, and do not welcome the behaviour of that group in relation to Botaka.”

The Russian Football Union was fined £22,000 by world governing body Fifa in May for racist chants by fans in Russia’s friendly with France in March.

Liverpool complained to Uefa about alleged racist abuse directed at winger Bobby Adekanye during a Uefa Youth League match at Spartak Moscow last September.

And in January, Spartak Moscow were criticised for a ‘racist’ tweet about their own players.

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BBC Sport – Football

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