April 17 – Amid concerns over disruption at next year’s World Cup, Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a federal law that will toughen penalties for “gross violations” at sporting events by both Russian and visiting fans.
The new legislation includes increased fines, 15-day detentions, deportation and, for Russian fans, a seven-year ban on attending fixtures.
Russia is constantly battling against football-related hooliganism at home and abroad but the amendments Putin has signed do not reportedly condemn racist acts that have been so prevalent in Russian football.
The Russian Football Union recently appointed former international Alexei Smertin, once of Chelsea, as its anti-racism inspector to monitor discrimination.
But two years ago, he dismissed the notion that it even exists in his country. “There’s no racism in Russia, because it doesn’t exist,” he told the BBC.
“It was never, ever here before. Ten years ago, some fans may have given a banana to black guys – it was just for fun. I think the media is making the wrong image of Russia.”
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