Some soccer fans recently showed their true colors in Russia. A Black soccer player was booted from the Torpedo Moscow team after fans protested his contract because of race.
Erving Botaka-Yoboma is now without a job after major backlash, Torpedo president Elena Yelentseva confirmed this week. The termination was not just about Botaka-Yoboma’s race, but the fact that he used to play for rival team Lokomotiv Moscow, fans said. To add insult to injury, the team seemingly agreed with fans’ racist protest and irrational reasoning. Say what?
At least one person, Alexander Zotov, who is the head of the All-Russian Union of Footballers, criticized the Torpedo supporters, according to the Daily Mail.
“There have been changes in attitude after the World Cup, but a group of idiots still remains,” Zotov said. “People with a limited worldview exist in any country. We saw how open our society and people were [during the World Cup].”
The dismissal of Botaka-Yoboma, who is a Russian citizen and plays in the defender position, is a clear example of discrimination and calls attention to racism in Russian sports.
Russian soccer clubs have previously dealt with similar issues about race: Supporters of Russian football club Zenit St Petersburg wrote an open letter that called for all Black players to be left off of the team after the signings of Brazilian soccer player Hulk and Belgian soccer player Axel Witsel in 2012, according to Bleacher Report. Additionally, Russia also saw a spike in racist incidents in recent months, with concerns having arisen during this year’s World Cup, which concluded on July 15.
Racist chants about monkeys and neo-Nazi songs were reported outside of Russian stadiums, with 19 cases in the 2017‑18 season compared to two in 2016-17 and 10 in 2015-16, according to a report from international sports equality advocacy organization Fare Network and the Moscow‑based think tank Sova Center, as cited by The Guardian.