There will be no racism at 2018 World Cup matches, says Russia’s anti-racism chief

CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies spoke to Russian Football’s Head of Anti-Racism, Alexey Smertin, in Russia yesterday. He told her, “I can guarantee” the safety of fans from all backgrounds at this year’s Confederations Cup and next year’s World Cup. They went on to speak about the issue of racism in Russia and said he had been educating himself about racism since taking up his new job role.

Smertin reiterated racism is a global problem; not a Russia-specific problem. He added his role is to educate people who don’t understand the problem, emphasising that these incidents take place in small groups.

In recent years, the words ‘racism’ and ‘Russia’ haven’t been too far apart when it comes to the context of football in the country.

High-profiles cases involving high-profile players has led to racism being one of the most scrutinised topics ahead of next year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The task of clamping down on the problem lies in the hands of the former Russia National Team Captain and recently appointed Head of Anti-Racism, Alexey Smertin, the same person who in 2015 told the BBC’s World Football Radio programme that “racism does not exist in Russia”.

When asked whether his views have changed and how exactly he plans to tackle one of the biggest threats on the footballing scene in Russia, Smertin said “No I said in global. If it happens as I say to you it is individually or small groups compared to all population of Russia. It happens everywhere. I’ve been educating myself. I’ve been creating the team and I would like to create a public council for that. People who are influential who can help me.”

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