By Andrew Warshaw
September 16 – FIFA has banned a former leading Russian football administrator and fan club founder for two years for discrimination.
One-time All-Russia Supporters’ Union leader Alexander Shprygin (pictured) was found guilty of posting extreme content online.
The move is significant given that most, if not all, of FIFA’s recent spate of bans have been linked to some kind of corruption-related or mismanagement offense rather than discrimination.
FIFA said its ethics committee judges had also fined Shprygin, a former member of the Russian Football Union executive committee, CHF10,000.
Shprygin achieved notoriety at the 2016 European Championships in France when he was one of several fans deported following violence at the England-Russia clash in Marseille.
The All-Russia Supporters’ Union was at one stage reportedly backed by the Kremlin and the move by the French authorities led to diplomatic tensions with Moscow. But soon after the tournament, Russian football authorities cut ties with Shprygin and his group which was set up in 2007 but is understood to be no longer operative.
Given that Shprygin no longer holds any official positions, it is unclear whether FIFA’s ban will have any effect but it nevertheless symbolic. FIFA said its investigation related to “media statements and content published on social media in 2014 and 2015.”
Shprygin told The Associated Press in 2015 that he had repeatedly posted images of far-right symbols on social media, but said they were meant as historical documents of fan displays, not as propaganda.
In a series of tweets, Shprygin blamed the FIFA investigation on “detractors” and said the ban was related to two posts on his Instagram account and that he was exploring ways of appealing.
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