CSKA play down Toure racism issue

04 November 2013 09:16

CSKA Moscow continued to play down the racial abuse suffered by Manchester City's Yaya Toure in the Russian capital ahead of Tuesday's return fixture at Eastlands.

European football governing body UEFA has ruled CSKA must play their next home Champions League match in a partly closed stadium after their fans were found guilty of aiming racist monkey chants at Toure during City's 2-1 group win last month.

The Russian club reluctantly accepted the UEFA punishment, having vehemently denied Toure was subjected to racist abuse, and were keen to downplay the incident when repeatedly questioned on the issue at Monday's pre-match news conference in Manchester.

"We have already spoken about our official position," said CSKA manager Leonid Slutsky. "It is normal, like many people, we are against racism.

"In our team we have black players. We love them and give them our support.

"As for the match, we did not hear any racial slurs, so it is difficult to comment."

He added: "What I can say is the club is categorically against racism. We think the situation has been exaggerated and there was an over-reaction."

CSKA defender Sergei Ignashevich, asked how he felt about part of the Khimki Arena being closed for the visit of Champions League title-holders Bayern Munich on November 27, replied: "We are sorry that some of our fans won't be at this game but at the moment we are thinking about the game."

Pressed on the abuse Toure suffered, he added: "We are sorry that such an unpleasant incident took place."

Earlier, City manager Manuel Pellegrini said he hoped last month's events would prompt a change in the behaviour of Russian football supporters ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

"The fans of CSKA made an important mistake," he said.

"The club, I don't know why they denied it at the beginning or what their reaction is now but UEFA acted and gave them the punishment they deserve," the Chilean added.

"I hope we can leave it in the past and it will be an example for Russian fans because they have a World Cup in their country."

City defender Pablo Zabaleta said he hoped UEFA did not let up in taking action against clubs whose fans chant racist abuse.

"Obviously what happened in Moscow was really hard for Yaya.

"We are all behind him and any time we see something like that we try to help the players.

"Hopefully UEFA is always on it. As players we can do nothing, we just need to give a massive support to the black players when they have some problems like that."

Meanwhile Pellegrini insisted Ivory Coast international Toure would not be distracted by the furore surrounding a match where victory should see City into the last 16.

"I think Yaya is an experienced player.

"What happened in Russia, maybe he can't forget, but tomorrow (Tuesday) is a special match for him, not because of that but because Manchester City can go to the next stage of the Champions League.

"I think he will only be thinking about football."

Source: AFP