MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Premier League champions Spartak Moscow and rivals Dynamo Moscow have each been fined 250,000 roubles ($4,250) over fans’ racist behaviour, the Russian Football Union (RFU) said on Thursday.
In a statement posted on its website, the RFU said both clubs could face harsher sanctions in the event of further incidents.
Russia has pledged to crack down on racism and fan violence as the country faces increased scrutiny before it hosts the World Cup finals next summer.
“The World Cup lies ahead and we want the culture of team support at Russian stadiums to meet the highest international standards,” the RFU quoted its anti-racism and discrimination inspector, former Chelsea midfielder Alexei Smertin, as saying.
Russian media said Spartak fans had directed a racist chant at Lokomotiv Moscow’s Brazilian-born goalkeeper Guilherme during their club’s 2-1 win in the Russian Super Cup last week.
Guilherme was granted Russian citizenship in 2015 and was named in the country’s squad for last month’s Confederations Cup.
The RFU said that Dynamo Moscow fans had booed and made “discriminatory gestures” targeting Spartak players during the clubs’ 2-2 draw on Tuesday.
Russia received praise from world soccer governing body FIFA over its trouble-free hosting last month of the eight-nation Confederations Cup, a two-week tournament.
However, the country still faces a challenge in convincing the football community that it has eradicated racism and violence fully from the stands, as incidents have continued at club level.
($1 = 58.9400 roubles)
Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Christian Radnedge