World Cup host, Russia, under investigation by FIFA

FIFA World Cup

FIFA is investigating alleged racist abuse directed at French players by Russia fans during a pre-World Cup friendly between the countries.

A Reuters photographer at pitch level for France’s 3-1 win on Tuesday in St Petersburg claims to have heard monkey chants directed at French players on several occasions, including when N’Golo Kante came to the sideline for a throw-in.

The incident sparked calls to persevere in the fight against racism in football with less than three months before the World Cup. French Sports Minister Laura Flessel-Colovic wrote on Twitter: “Racism has no place on soccer fields. We must act together at the European and international level to stop this intolerable behaviour.”

Russia has pledged to crack down on racism as the country faces increased scrutiny before this year’s World Cup, which it will host from 14 June to 15 July in 11 cities including Moscow, St Petersburg and Sochi.

Uefa opened disciplinary proceedings against Zenit St Petersburg last week for racist chants during a Europa League match against RB Leipzig.

Zenit last year was ordered by Uefa to partially close their stadium after fans displayed a banner praising former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic, a convicted war criminal, during a 2-1 home win over Macedonian side Vardar Skopje also in the Europa League.