The Brazilian soccer star Hulk has been pulled out of the 2018 FIFA World Cup draw in St. Petersburg just days after commenting about widespread racism within Russian soccer.
The international governing body of football, FIFA, said Hulk had withdrawn from the gala event on July 25 because of “club commitments” with his team, FC Zenit St. Petersburg.
But the snub comes only days after the Brazilian international complained he has encountered racism in “almost every game” and was quoted as saying that "if [racism] happens in the World Cup [in Russia], it will be really gross and really ugly. Usually it happens when Russian clubs play and it doesn't come out to the world and the world doesn't know about this."
Hulk, the most expensive signing in Russian Premier League history, added that he had faced "monkey chants" while playing in Russia and that a referee had racially abused him.
Other soccer legends such as Hulk’s compatriot, Ronaldo, and the Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto’o, will participate in the draw, which Russian President Vladimir Putin is also expected to attend.
Meanwhile, FIFA has asked the Russian Football Union to explain why it banned Ghanaian international player Emmanuel Frimpong for two games after he complained of racial abuse at a game in which he reacted to monkey chants by fans with a derogatory gesture.