The English used the racist card a lot in their own campaign to beat the Russians to the rights for 2018. Unfortunately, this makes them racist too, and they lost on top of that. However, admit it, not all Russians are racist. It’s only a few topless and drunk boys who can even barely afford their match tickets who come to stadiums with these banners looking for some attention. I have a few Russian friends and they are nice people! For years, the Soviet Union invested heavily in Africa. Thousands of near-retirement professionals in my country had some Soviet education, sort of.
The nation’s policy isn’t racist and we could look forward to a good World Cup. After all, we have heard similar doubts about World Cup hosts in the past, haven’t we? Didn’t we all hear “Can South Africa pull this off” or “We are not sure the Japan-Korea co-host arrangement can work smoothly”? These kinds of comments are common as long as you have sore losing bidders (like England, right?). But FIFA has a good reason to take the World Cup to Russia. They have a vision to spread football to every country in the world. And if spreading football means teaching a racist Caucasian how to play alongside a Black, Latino or Asian, then I’m game. Play Ball!
Politically, the Russian government has a big task, if they are to avoid a boycott of the 2018 tournament. I think their primary weakness is the denial of the gravity of the situation. They even denied the interpretation of Odemwingie’s banana banner! They must accept that all the neo-Nazi chants in stadiums and activities outside of it are a red alert crisis. When a referee has to stop a game because of a chant against a Black player, you think that’s not a problem? Gradually, a new generation of racially intolerant kids will grow and enter sports and politics. The hate crimes continue and people are being murdered year on year for just looking the way they were born to look. If as much as a tiny fraction of an increase in these rates appear in the run to 2018, then forget it.
They will have to attend their own World Cup. A lot of assurances need to fly around the world. South Africa had to promise the rest of the world that its outrageously high crime rate wouldn’t be a problem for fans and tourists. They had to do this repeatedly until we all felt we could walk on the streets in South Africa without looking over our shoulders for a mugger or rapist. Until a lot of things change and tolerance education is intensified in Russia, I won’t be caught dead on the streets of Moscow wearing the Black Star jersey and brandishing my Ghanaian flag. I’ll be in the safety of my living room in 2018, for now…….