The Reds have officially lodged a complaint with UEFA after 18-year-old Bobby Adekanye reportedly faced racist chants and gestures from Spartak Moscow fans as he entered the pitch as a second-half substitute during Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat in the UEFA Youth League. The official complaint comes at the heels of Spartak Moscow being fined €60,000 after their supporters fired a flare at a referee.
The incidents of racist abuse were witnessed by Liverpool officials, who said they were ‘appalled by the treatment’ of the Nigeria-born winger. Academy Director, Alex Inglethorpe, who attended the game in Moscow, lodged the formal complaint. This latest case will be heard by UEFA’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body on 19 October.
Russia and Russian clubs have repeatedly had issues with race and their treatment of non-white (particularly black) players, so this news hardly comes as a surprise. Nor does the fact that UEFA will make no attempt to hear the case against Spartak Moscow before they play against Sevilla on October 17, given the general lack of urgency with which football associations treat allegations of racism in general. By letting games be played in atmospheres proven to be damaging, UEFA is only making clearer that player welfare is not their top priority.
Nonetheless, a thorough investigation and some action leveed against clubs unwilling to discourage racist fans is a step in the right direction. But football has a much larger issue looming with the 2018 World Cup being held in Russia (and y’know, the fact that the world has quite a few non-white players who’ll be attending), and perhaps its time for much swifter and more punitive actions to be taken against offending clubs.