By Mike Collett
LONDON, Oct 24 (Reuters) - The British media was united in its condemnation of the racist chants directed towards Manchester City's Ivorian international Yaya Toure during the side's Champions League match against CSKA Moscow in the Russian capital on Wednesday.
The incident was particularly embarrassing for UEFA, who had declared this week as 'Football Against Racism in Europe Action Week' and responded by issuing a short statement saying they were "waiting for the report from match officials" on Thursday.
However, despite all captains wearing anti-racism armbands during this round of fixtures and the exchanging of pennants declaring "No To Racism" and "Respect", the message appears to have been lost on some CSKA Moscow fans.
Thursday's Daily Mirror headline echoed Toure's post-match comments, proclaiming "Shut Them Down" after the midfielder called on European soccer's governing body to close the stadium perhaps for "a couple of years" until the problem is eradicated.
The Daily Telegraph said the racism issue was particularly worrying because Russia were hosting the World Cup in 2018.
The Times observed that Toure knew exactly what was being chanted at him as he was a fluent Russian speaker following his time playing in Ukraine.
Toure said he told Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan what was happening 10 minutes into the second half, shortly after he had been fouled by a CSKA player.
Injured Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany offered support for his team mate when he issued a plea to UEFA and the Russian government.
"Racist chanting again in Moscow today. We've all said enough. @UEFA.com, @GovernmentRF, CSKA all eyes are on you now.. #StopRacism," he tweeted
The Times commented: "UEFA must finally make a stand against the bigots. Last night showed 'Action Week' for the joke it is.
"The UEFA Congress adopted an 11-point anti-racsim resolution in May and has made smug videos to illustrate how hard it is working, but no-one fears UEFA sanctions because time and time again racist incedents have been ignored and downplayed."
The lack of an immediate response was fairly typical for UEFA, who have merely paid lip service to the problem in the past by imposing paltry fines for racism at matches under their jurisdiction.
On Wednesday, UEFA even reduced a punishment against serial offenders Lazio following another racist incident in the Europa League against Legia Warsaw last month.
Toure said after the game, which City won 2-1 to put them in sight of a place in the last 16, "I am not just disappointed. I'm furious about what those fans have done and UEFA have to take some action because players with the same colour of skin will always be in the same position.
"I told the referee. We are always talking about the same thing - having no racism and it was unbelievable and very, very sad for my part.
"As captain, I was wearing an armband which says "no to racism" and I want to see UEFA do something. We have to be as strong as possible otherwise they will continue like that. Maybe they could ban the stadium, I don't know for a couple of years or a couple of months."
City coach Manuel Pellegrini added: "There were some shouts against our player. It's a pity that they keep doing such stupid things. It's a pity for Yaya and a pity for the city, but I hope the right message can be put out."
CSKA are playing at the Khimki Arena while the Luzhniki Stadium, their regular home, is being rebuilt ahead of the World Cup and there were already problems in the build-up to the game following City's concerns over the state of the pitch.
In the event, although Zoran Tosic gave CSKA the lead, Sergio Aguero scored twice before halftime to put City ahead and they stayed firm in the second half to take all three points. (Editing by John O'Brien)
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- Manchester City
- Yaya Toure