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13th Jan 2018

Spartak Moscow at the centre of racism controversy over tweet about their own players

The Russian club have been criticised by anti-discrimination groups since posting the tweet

Matthew Gault

The Russian club have been criticised by anti-discrimination groups since posting the tweet

Spartak Moscow became embroiled in a racism row on Saturday after posting an offensive tweet. The club’s official Twitter account shared a video of three black players in training accompanied by the caption “see how chocolates melt in the sun.”

The players in the clip are thought to be Brazilian trio Fernando, Luiz Adriano and Pedro Roch in training with Spartak, who are in the United Arab Emirates for a warm-weather training camp during the Russian Premier League’s winter break.

The club tweeted on Friday that Spartak player Georgi Dzhikiya would be taking over the official account though it is unclear if the defender wrote the video’s caption.

Although the post has since been deleted, it was condemned by anti-discrimination groups. Posting a response on Twitter, Kick It Out said:

“This social media post from the official account of Spartak Moscow only continues to highlight the prejudices towards black people in Russia. It is a reminder that, along with the whole of football, there is significant work to do to eradicate racism of all forms from the sport.”

Speaking to BBC Sport, Piara Powar, executive director of Football Against Racism in Europe, highlighted the troubling nature of the tweet in a year when Russia are set to host the World Cup.

“Racism is one of the biggest issues Russia faces in the year they host the World Cup. References like this show how some minorities are seen by some in the country. For Russia’s biggest club to tolerate and then celebrate racist references of this kind is wrong. They were sanctioned for Islamophobic chanting recently but clearly the message has not reached the players or the club management.”

It’s the third time Spartak have been at the centre of racism controversy in a matter of months. UEFA ordered them to partially close their academy stadium for a fixture after a section of fans were guilty of racist behaviour towards Nigeria-born Liverpool striker Bobby Adekanye.

Spartak defender Leonid Mironov was also charged with racially abusing Reds striker Rhian Brewster.