Yaya Toure threatens Russia with World Cup racism boycott
Manchester City midfielder says that unless action is taken then players 'won't come' in 2018
THE CSKA Moscow racism storm was whipped into a frenzy last night as Yaya Toure threatened a players' boycott of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Toure had demanded strong action from Uefa after he was subjected to racist abuse during Wednesday's Champions League game between Manchester City and CSKA. But after the governing body opened disciplinary proceedings yesterday, Toure upped the ante, demanding change across Russian football or dire consequences when the country hosts the World Cup.
If Russia does not take action "we won't come", he warned.
"Toure has raised a very powerful idea," writes anti-discrimation campaigner Piara Powar of Fare Network in The Guardian. "There can be no meaningful World Cup without those players, and this idea, of a World Cup boycott if the issue is not adequately addressed, should be taken absolutely seriously and focus everybody's minds."
Toure's words increase the pressure on Fifa as well as Uefa, which earlier in the day confirmed that disciplinary proceedings have been opened against CSKA "for racist behaviour of their fans", as well as for setting off fireworks.
Toure was perhaps pushed into action by the anger he must have felt hearing CSKA's denial of any racist abuse.
Their statement said: "Having carefully studied the video of the game, we found no racist insults from fans of CSKA. In many occasions, especially during attacks on our goal, fans booed and whistled to put pressure on rival players, but regardless of their race.
"In particular, this happened with Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko. Why the Ivorian midfielder took it as all being directed at him is not clear."
The club even wheeled out Toure's Ivory Coast colleague, CSKA striker Seydou Doumbia to say: "I didn't hear anything like that [racist abuse] from the CSKA fans. Yes, they're always noisy in supporting the team, and try to put as much pressure as possible on our opponents, but they wouldn't ever allow themselves to come out with racist chants. So my Ivory Coast colleague is clearly exaggerating."
The Daily Telegraph takes pity on Doumbia: "Maybe he believes this, or perhaps he feels suffocating pressure not to make life worse for his employers. The level of denial, though, only illustrates the problem's depth."
Uefa is good at superficial gestures such as anti-racism banners and armbands, notes The Times, but weak when it comes to actions. Only yesterday, Uefa downgraded a punishment against Lazio handed down after incidents in the Europa League against Legia Warsaw last month.
"Last night should be a tipping point," concludes the paper. "How Uefa deals with the Toure incident will tell us just how much it cares about stopping racism." ·