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Russia launch anti-racism taskforce after Samba abuse

March 23, 2012 -- Updated 1900 GMT (0300 HKT)
Congolese defender Christopher Samba played for English side Blackburn Rovers between 2007 and 2012.
Congolese defender Christopher Samba played for English side Blackburn Rovers between 2007 and 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Russian Football Union to launch a group aimed at tackling racism in the sport
  • Anzhi Makhachkala defender Christopher Samba had a banana throw at him on Sunday
  • Anzhi's Roberto Carlos also had a banana thrown at him while playing for the club
  • Russia are to host the FIFA World Cup finals for the first time in 2018

(CNN) -- Russian football has been blighted by a series of high-profile incidents of racial abuse in recent times, an issue the country's soccer administrators are eager to address ahead of the FIFA World Cup arriving in 2018.

Global attention was drawn to the issue when veteran Anzhi Makhachkala full-back Roberto Carlos, a World Cup winner with Brazil in 2002, was subjected to abuse by both Zenit St. Petersburg and Krylya Sovetov fans.

As a result of the abuse, which included the former Real Madrid star having a banana thrown at him, both clubs were fined $10,000.

And racism in the Russian Premier League has been brought back into focus by events on Sunday, when Carlos' Congolese teammate Christopher Samba was subjected to the same form of abuse.

Samba, who moved to Anzhi from English Premier League side Blackburn Rovers last month, had a banana thrown at him from the VIP box of Lokomotiv Moscow's Lokomotiv Stadium.

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was handed an eight-match ban by the English Football Association for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra in a match in October 2011. Suarez refused to shake Evra's hand during the customary pre-match ritual ahead of the teams' clash on February 12 this year. The Uruguayan has since apologized for his snub of the France defender. Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was handed an eight-match ban by the English Football Association for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra in a match in October 2011. Suarez refused to shake Evra's hand during the customary pre-match ritual ahead of the teams' clash on February 12 this year. The Uruguayan has since apologized for his snub of the France defender.
Suarez hit with eight-game ban
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"We are deeply disappointed with the idiotic episode that happened to our player Christopher Samba after the match at Lokomotiv," read a statement from the Dagestan-based team.

"We are assured that the representatives of the football authorities, the security service of Lokomotiv, will settle this issue and the guilty will be identified and punished."

An investigation into the incident was launched on Tuesday and the Russian Football Union (RFU) have now gone one step further by launching a dedicated anti-racism taskforce.

We are deeply disappointed with the idiotic episode that happened to our player
Anzhi Makhachkala statement

"The RFU's ethics committee has decided to create a special working group made up of members of the committee," the organization said on its website. The group will be tasked with battling "racism, xenophobia and extremism."

France-born defender Samba was upset by the incident and slammed the action as a poor example to young fans.

"I`m very upset that such misconduct took place in view of children who were sitting in those very stands. It can serve as a bad example for them.

"I try not to think about racism. I just want to believe that such problems do not exist on a global basis. Maybe I am mistaken but I do want to believe in it.

"As a rule any scandal of this kind is a result of a misconduct committed by one silly person. I don`t want to react to this."

The Russian Premier League vowed to hunt down the fan who had hurled the banana at the 27-year-old.

"Our aim is to find the man who threw banana at Samba," the league's security Alexander Meitin was reported to have said by AFP.

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