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Russian Soccer Federation Fined Over Racist Chants By Fans

A Russian soccer fan wears a jacket with an image of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia's soccer federation has been fined 25,000 euros ($29,600) over racist chants by Russian fans during a game with France in March, world soccer's governing body, FIFA, says.

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele were the target of monkey chants during the match in St. Petersburg, which ended with a 3-1 victory for France.

FIFA's disciplinary committee said it sanctioned the Russian federation "following a thorough investigation, including the review of video evidence," and based its decision on "the gravity of the incident, but also the limited number of fans involved."

The punishment comes as Russia prepares to host the soccer World Cup next month.

Racism has plagued Russian soccer since clubs began widely employing foreign players in the 1990s.

Aleksandr Alayev, the Russian federation's acting chief, said the body will pay the fine, but the "money will be recovered from those persons who are guilty of that incident. The persons attending the match should understand their personal responsibility."

He told Russia's RIA Novosti news agency that the "outrageous" show of "disrespect" involved only a few spectators and "we will do everything possible to prevent the repetition of such incidents in the future."

Football Against Racism in Europe, an antidiscrimination network, reported 89 racist incidents at Russian games in the 2016-17 season.

The number was about the same as that recorded in the preceding three seasons -- a sign that Russia's campaign to clean up its game has not had much effect.

The antiracism group Kick It Out said FIFA's "lack of effective action...will likely result in the further abuse of black players in matches involving [Russia]."

It said it had "little confidence that FIFA can effectively deal with potential incidents of racism during this summer's World Cup."

Based on reporting by AP and AFP