Russian football and the habits that are hard to kick

Having endured a drought of 16 years, Spartak Moscow finally won the league title again under Italian magician Massimo Carrera’s appliance of Mapei and Juventus science.

Facing a decent Lokomotiv Moscow side in the Supercup, the Spartak players were still full of running after 120 minutes, eventually getting home 2-1.

Yet despite all the modern applications of science, it was more medieval behaviour that would define the game.

More of the same old came from the lauded idiots of Spartak’s ‘ultras’. The typical “look at me” gobshitery was evident from the start and once flares went off, followed by clowns from Lokomotiv doing the same, the spectacle was in ruin.

Time and again in fan forums I ask, “Do you not realise your behaviour negatively affects your own team?” These tenth-wits don’t care, because letting off flares and fireworks makes them feel more adequate in their search for whatever it is they lack from their childhoods and current lives.

Best example of how negative this is for players and adequate supporters, is from December 2004 in Split. Hajduk hosted title rivals Dinamo Zagreb. There was a vile atmosphere surrounding the match, a group of Dinamo fans were ambushed during a pit stop on the way home and two left seriously injured in hospital for a month.

Hajduk were 3-0 ahead and the quarter-wits of the North, aka Torcida, launched a series of flares onto the running track and pitch.

At pitchside I found it impossible to see to the far touchline. So walked away from the north end and the Hajduk goalmouth disappeared. The ‘fans’ were launching flares to ‘protect’ the goal – I was told.

The match was stopped, players waited, getting cold and four minutes after the restart Dinamo scored through Niko Kranjcar. Asking Hajduk management after the game why they allowed it to happen, they could only say that “The fans enjoy it”.

In Moscow on Friday it was even worse. It was as if the scrutiny of the past 12 months and the images of mouthy English yobs getting a comeuppance wasn’t bad enough PR, the inadequates calling themselves Spartak fans shamed their club once more. And those who fight against discrimination and racism seem not to understand the whole concept of what they fight against.

Brazilian-born Ari and Guilherme both play for Lokomotiv Moscow. Guilherme is ten years in Russia, has citizenship and national team caps. He is a better keeper than Akinfeev right now.

Ari arrived to Spartak in 2010 and is currently on loan at Loko. He’s not going to be picked for Brazil, so Russia is his only option.

From the far end of the stadium it was not immediately clear what the Spartak fans were chanting, however the ripple of surprise and genuine embarrassment was. Genii to a man, they had a chant at length – “Banana, Banana Mama. What’s for the National Team’s monkey”, aimed at Guilherme.

These morons of the lowest order poured disgusting, discriminatory bile across a pitch where three of their own players – Promes, Ze Luis and Luiz Adriano – were carrying the team to a Supercup victory.

I interviewed two Spartak fans afterwards and they were appalled. Would they report it? “What good will it do. They’re scum and always will be” – their reply. I cannot criticise these men, as I’m as much to blame.

We all allow it to happen, we’re all guilty.

Journalists – who witnessed, recorded, wrote about it – how many will lodge an official report to the Russian Football Union? I asked two – neither will. I have an excuse in that I spoke directly with the Inspector to combat Racism and Discrimination after the game.

But talk is only that, talk; it is written letters and emails that carry weight.

Planet of the fakes

Last week was a terrible one for sports. Two aging tennis players with colourful medical histories reaching their respective finals at Wimbledon and Mainstream Media gushed about how wonderful it was.

Not a word about abuse of Theraputic Use Exemptions (TUEs) or associations with doping Doctors. Sports media was incapable of asking ANY questions. This on Newstalk was one of the most depressing, frustrating and cringeworthy.

Taking cuts at Lance Armstrong is easy, asking a disgraced ex-tennis pro who is protected by the tennis mafia and media, not so.

On Friday night one of our guests on the show mentioned Conor McGregor. Was I “excited about the big fight”. I smiled and changed the subject. What we witnessed in the clips being spread around the internet of the man and his opponent was close to what took place in the Spartak ultra idiot section.

Alleged Irish patriots following the man around and joining in with his offensive chants, glorying in his disgusting behaviour, aping the ape on stage. Eamonn Sweeney calls it right, “cross gender moron appeal”.

Yet, and yet, those outraged hacks will all watch the show. Like the tasteless Michael Wilbon, who wants McGregor to be “carried out of the ring”, he then goes on to say that he’ll watch the fight. He needs his moment in the spotlight too.

Friday night was another dagger in the back of Russian decency. So what of the fighters for justice who want to be on the right side of history? They rightly grumped, harrumphed and then when watching their own team decided a GIF that is beyond borderline discriminatory was in order to celebrate a goal.

It seems that despite the rhetoric and education, there is still much to be learned in the fight against racism and discrimination in Russia.

Nuclear Summer

Moscow hasn’t had a Summer this year – It’s been wet, dull and cold. It was not so in 2014 where, this very week, I went to see “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”. The film left me cold as did a match a week later in Voronezh.

The second round of the Russian Cup threw up a city derby between future bankruptcy victims Vybor-Kurbatovo and Fakel.

Close to 10,000 fans filled the Central Trade Union Stadium and at regular intervals the Fiery Force, Fakel’s ultra twits, chanted about killing Ukrainians, Barack Obama eating bananas and never giving in to Nazi’s. In the middle of the sizable mob were two clowns in t-shirts emblazoned in Waffen-SS symbols.

With everything that is being done to make Russia ready for hosting the biggest show on earth, there is a hardcore of idiots refusing to move into the 20th Century.

I genuinely hope that Friday night is dying cry of a group of social inadequates who desperately need validation and attention. I fervently hope that the authorities clamp down on this type of behaviour and that fans turn into supporters.

I do believe that those who wish to end discrimination and idiocy in Russian football will develop themselves further and closer to their own goals.

I also hope that Louth will win the All-Ireland next year, Dundalk will make this Champions League group stage and that Ireland win the 2018 World Cup. I might as well dream awake as asleep.

Author Details

Alan Moore
Alan Moore

A Russia-based Sports Journalist and Consultant, worked with major sports clubs including:- Spartak Moscow, Hajduk Split, Eintracht Frankfurt. Boxed Internationally, played semi-pro football and I worked full-time in sports management/consultancy from 2003-13. First published professionally on football in 1990, first Russian league match in 1991, now hosting Capital Sports on Capital FM, Moscow and writing the odd article.

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