FIFA has slapped a fine on Russia’s soccer federation after it was determined Russian fans had displayed a neo-Nazi banner during a World Cup match.
The disciplinary panel of soccer’s governing body has ordered the Russian federation to pay a $10,100 fine over a “discriminatory banner” fans unfurled at Cosmos Arena in Samara during Russia’s 3-0 loss to Uruguay last week. The banner apparently featured the number 88, which is far-right code for “Heil Hitler,” due to H being the eighth letter in the alphabet.
In the build-up to the tournament, there were widespread apprehensions about the host nation, which, in addition to having an institutionalized bias toward the LGBT community, has seen a spike in incidents of discrimination toward ethnic minorities and a rise in nationalism.
In Russian soccer stadiums, in particular, the lead-up to the World Cup saw an increase in the use of racist and anti-gay chants. In a friendly with France back in March, black players on the French team were targeted with monkey chants. Last year, Liverpool filed a formal complaint after youth player Bobby Adekanye was subjected to similar chants during a youth match against Spartak Moscow.
FIFA has been working with anti-discrimination group Fare, which has sent monitors to World Cup matches to help identify and punish incidents of discrimination. Thankfully, there have been relatively few incidents like these involving Russia fans at the World Cup. Although, in a separate case, Serbia soccer federation was also hit with a fine after fans at the World Cup displayed a Chetnik banner celebrating a World War II-era nationalist group.
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