Moscow, June 10 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Reports that Russian fans racially abused a black player during their team’s Euro 2012 match against the Czech Republic are “nonsense”, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said Sunday.
UEFA is investigating the claims after Football Against Racism in Europe, which places trained racism observers in Euro 2012 crowds, reported monkey chants at Friday’s game directed at Czech player Theodor Gebre Selassie, who is black.
“It’s all nonsense and untrue. I was at the match and saw everything,” Mutko said.
The Russians were deriding Czech fans who refused to continue a Mexican wave, he said.
“Our fans started doing a wave but the Czech sector didn’t stand up so they started condemning the Czechs with the appropriate noises.”
Football Against Racism in Europe was not qualified to comment, he suggested.
“This organization has no connection whatsoever to football.”
The minister was backed up by Russian Football Union president Sergei Fursenko, who said: “I didn’t hear or see anything.”
Video has emerged showing Russia fans apparently kicking and punching Polish stewards after the match, and several suspects are now being hunted by police.
The head of the official Russian fan club told R-Sport Saturday that Polish stewards attempted to detain the wrong man while trying to catch a supporter who had thrown a flare during the game, and this sparked the assault.
“When they tried to detain one person in a heavy-handed manner, well, of course they were given a kicking,” Alexander Shprygin, head of the All-Russian Fans’ Union, told R-Sport.
UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Russian Football Union regarding crowd disturbances and the use of pyrotechnics at the match.
Neither Mutko nor Fursenko commented on the reports of violence, but both said that the Russian Football Union would likely be punished for the flare-throwing.
“There’ll be a punishment for that,” Mutko said, while Fursenko predicted his organisation would face a $10,000 fine.
UEFA said its disciplinary body would examine the case Wednesday.