May 8, 2018 / 2:33 PM / 6 months ago

Soccer: FIFA fines Russia over racist chants at France friendly

FILE PHOTO: The logo of FIFA is seen in front of its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) - World Cup hosts Russia have been fined 30,000 Swiss francs for discriminatory chants by fans, FIFA said on Tuesday, after racist abuse was directed at French players during a friendly in St Petersburg in March.

A Reuters photographer at pitch level for France’s 3-1 win over Russia heard monkey chants directed at French players on several occasions, including when midfielder N’Golo Kante came to the touchline for a throw-in.

FIFA said it had conducted a “thorough investigation” of video evidence of the match in reaching its decision.

World soccer’s ruling body said it recognised the gravity of the incident but added that only a limited number of fans were involved.

The Russian Football Union (RFU) referred questions to its anti-discrimination inspector Alexei Smertin, whose assistant declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

Russia has pledged to crack down on racism as the country faces increased scrutiny ahead of this year’s World Cup, which it will host from June 14 to July 15 in 11 cities including Moscow, St Petersburg and Sochi.

There have been other reported cases of racist abuse, however, in the run-up to the tournament.

Smertin said at the time that the RFU was looking for the people responsible for the chanting and said they should not be in soccer stadiums.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber; writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond

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