Cameroon, and indeed Africans can heave a sigh of relief as FIFA appears set to combat racism which is believed to be prevalent in Russia as regards to players of African origin. Monkey chants are common when Africans are on the field.
It is feared that such chants may come up when Cameroon take on Germany in Sochi next Sunday. Cameroon will open their 2017 Confederations Cup account this Sunday with a match with Chile in Moscow, but the greatest concern is the match next week in Sochi.
Just last month, in a Russian government sponsored public parade to herald the 2017 Confederations Cup, Russians in Sochi wore black painted faces and afro wigs to depict Cameroonians and were seen holding bananas as if they were monkeys.
The incident in Sochi, Russia has already triggered off what Cameroon should expect in Russia this year and the expectations of the five African teams that will feature at Russia 2018 World Cup.
But the world football governing body, FIFA, is taking steps to douse what could lead to potentially explosive situation.
The Olympic Games in the past had witnessed boycotts, even after teams’ arrivals as it happened in 1976 in Montreal, Canada and also in Moscow, Russia in1980.
FIFA events are yet to experience such. So, for the first time, Sports Village Square has gathered, in an official tournament, FIFA will use a three-step procedure in case of discriminatory incidents and also deploy anti-discrimination observers at all matches of the ongoing FIFA Confederations Cup 2017.
First, referees have been empowered to first stop a match and request a public announcement to insist that the discriminatory behaviour must stop.
The referee will suspend the match until the behaviour stops following another warning announcement, and finally, if the behaviour still persists, the referee will call off the match.
According to a media statement from FIFA, “anti-discrimination observers, meanwhile, are a natural continuation of the monitoring system that FIFA has put in place to monitor FIFA World Cup qualifiers and selected friendlies.
“The match observers are coordinated and trained by the Fare network, an organisation with a long track record of monitoring and fighting discrimination in football. Based on Fare’s ‘Global guide to discriminatory practices in football’, the match observers will monitor the behaviour of fans from both teams, as well as any spectators who are not affiliated to a particular team playing in the match.
“Should any discriminatory incidents occur during a match, the evidence collected by the match observers will be forwarded to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee for review and potential action.