I heard Peter Odemwingie is happy the FIFA World Cup is going to Russia in 2018. Really? Is it the same Peter Odemwingie who once played for Lokomotiv Moscow? Is it the same Peter Odemwingie who got this banner from Lokomotiv fans after he transferred to West Bromwich Albion?
What was difficult to understand about this racial abuse was the fact that his mum is Russian and he was born and raised in the former Soviet Union. Forget the fact that he chose to play for his father’s nation, Nigeria (good choice!); dude still has Russian blood in him. And now he’s happy the World Cup is going to a country whose club fans can make monkey noises when a black player is on the opposing side? Yeah right, but I understand his point of view. According to him, the World Cup will be an opportunity for football fans in the country to experience the presence of other fans from diverse colours, cultures and continents.
He hopes the effect of the experience will lead the myopic ones to understand and accept that anyone can play football (even Yakubu Aiyegbeni, hehehe). The list of Black players publicly facing racist chants in Russia is limitless. When Marseille played Zenit St. Petersburg (and I’m a big Zenit fan) in 2008, Andre Ayew and teammates Ronald Zubar and Charles Kabore were targeted. Not to talk of all the crap Andre Bikey had to take whiles playing for Lokomotiv.
When Dutch mastermind Dick Advocaat was coach at Zenit, he made the situation pretty clear: “The fans don’t like black players”. Does anyone remember the “Monkey go home” banner by Spartak Moscow fans for Brazilian forward, Welliton, in 2007? Spartak got away with just a £13,000 fine, nothing more. I just hope that Russians won’t embarrass themselves in 2018 and shut out the rest of the football world permanently.