These are the absolutely insane assertions of former Russia captain and 2018 World Cup ambassador Alexei Smertin.
From the BBC:
“There’s no racism in Russia, because it does not exist,” Smertin told the BBC’s World Football programme.
On Friday, Russia marks 1,000 days until the start of the World Cup.
Smertin, an ambassador for his country’s successful World Cup bid, claims that fans abuse players because of who they play for — not their skin colour.
“It is something against the opposition, not against a person,” said the former Chelsea and Portsmouth midfielder.
OK, so, according to Smertin, racism does not exist in Russia despite dozens of highly publicized incidents at football matches alone in recent years. That’s insane, but that’s his position. Anything else, Alexei?
“Racism in Russia is like fashion. It comes from abroad, from different countries,” he said.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. I thought racism didn’t exist in Russia? Now it does exist, but it’s the fault of other countries? An already dumb premise has gotten even dumber. Please stop, Alexei.
“It was never, ever here before. Ten years ago, some fans may have given a banana to black guys — it was just for fun.
“I think the media is making the wrong image of Russia.”
So this thing that doesn’t exist but was brought in by foreigners is really just for fun. Got it. Crystal clear point there, Alexei. Please never speak again.
As a tidy counterpoint, former Cameroon and Lokomotiv Moscow defender Andre Bikey said, “He says there is no racism in Russia. Racism is everywhere.”
So, in conclusion, Alexei Smertin is insane.