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‘While you are throwing bananas, I am fighting hunger in Brazil.’

Professional footballers in Russia, supported by the Russian professional footballers association PSFT and TV station Dojd, spoke out against racism.

Recently, Russian professional football has been plagued by racist incidents. In March, a banana was thrown at Anzhi’s Congolese defender Christopher Samba when he left the field after a match at FC Lokomotiv. One week later, Spartak Moscow’s Nigerian striker Emmanuel Emenike was racially abused by fans during a match at Dynamo. Whenever he had possession of the ball, he heard monkey chants from the stands.

These were not the first incidents during the current season, but were the last straw that led the players to participate in this event.

Private TV channel Dojd decided to produce a special broadcast called ‘The day of the struggle against racism in Russian football’. In collaboration with the players union PSFT, the TV station created a special video with various black players showing different messages. The video was aired during this broadcast and Vladimir Leonchenko, president of the Russian players union, was interviewed about the problem of racism in Russian football.

In total, ten players participated, each carrying a unique personal message. Some of the players created a message by themselves, some of them received help.

In order of appearance:

  • Pula (a player of the Russian national futsal team): ‘I am playing for the Russian national team and I like it’
  • Guilherme (FC Lokomotiv): ‘I speak Russian and I understand all the words you say in the stands’
  • Sirilo (a player of the Russian national mini football team): ‘In 42 matches for Russia, I have scored 31 goals. Are you unhappy?’
  • Ari (Spartak): ‘I like it when owls hoot, but I don’t like it when fans do’
  • Seydou Doumbia (CSKA): ‘I am the best striker of the Russian championship. A fact that speaks for itself.’
  • Angbwa (Anzhi): ‘My name is Benoît Christian Angbwa Ossoemeyang, but in Russia I am called Benya’
  • Emmanuel Emenike (Spartak): ‘Why should I pay for insults and snowballs?’
  • Peter Odemwingie (former FC Lokomotiv, currently West Bromwich Albion): ‘My mother’s name is Raisa’
  • Roberto Carlos (Anzhi): ‘While you are throwing bananas, I am fighting hunger in Brazil’
  • Lacina Traore (FC Kuban): ‘Racism is small’

The messages are personal:  Ari has heard many monkey chants, Emenike was insulted and hit by snowballs, Roberto Carlos twice had a banana thrown at him, Odemwingie is born in Uzbekistan, his father is Nigerian and his mother is Russian, and Traore stands 2.03 meter tall.

Leonchenko: ‘The Russian players support this video with their foreign colleagues. We hope that this is the first step to a real Russian anti-racism campaign.’