CSKA Moscow’s manager, Leonid Slutsky, has stoked the fires ahead of tonight’s return clash against Manchester City by claiming that the fallout from Yaya Toure being racially abused by a section of fans was an “overreaction”.
Toure was the subject of monkey chants during City’s 2-1 win a fortnight ago, which has resulted in UEFA imposing a partial closure of CSKA’s stadium for their next home fixture against Bayern Munich, and Slutsky passed comment on the affair at the pre-match press conference ahead of the game in Manchester on Tuesday night.
“It is normal we are against racism in our team,” he said. “We have black players and we give them support. We did not hear any racist chants [so] it is difficult to comment.
“The club is categorically against racism but we think the situation has been much exaggerated and there was an overreaction. We have received our punishment – it was up to UEFA to impose it.”
Slutsky’s insistence that the club were against racism was taken a step further by Captain Sergei Ignashevich, who apologised for the incident.
Having stated that he was “sorry” that some of his side’s home support would not be able to attend the Bayern game, he added: “We are sorry that such unpleasant incident took place.”
This came after Manuel Pellegrini had warned CSKA Moscow fans not to racially abuse any of his players when the teams meet in the return fixture.
“The fans of CSKA made an important mistake,” Pellegrini said on Monday. “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 deserved.
“I hope we can leave it in the past. The Russian fans should remember they have a World Cup coming up in their country.”
Pellegrini said he would not offer Toure any special advice, adding: “I think Yaya is an experienced player.
“What happened in Russia maybe he can’t forget but tomorrow 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.”
CSKA coach: Toure racist abuse incident an 'overreaction'