A beauty queen honored as “Miss Charming” by Russia’s top football league has lost her title for allegedly supporting neo-Nazism. Racism in Russian football is a key issue ahead of the 2018 World Cup.
The woman, Olga Kuzkova, 21, had her title withdrawn earlier this week after anti-racist activists found evidence in social media networks that she was spreading neo-Nazi ideas, according to a report in German newsmagazine “Spiegel” which cited the Russian newspaper “Sport Express.”
Activists pointed, among other things, to a photograph on Russian social media showing Kuzkova making an apparent Hitler salute next to a wall bearing supremacist graffiti.
She is also said to have commented on a picture showing a crematorium with the slogan “Jews and Chatshis [pejorative word for people from the Caucasus] burn well,” writing: “burn and have fun.”
The post was apparently deleted shortly after the contest’s jury officially stripped her of the title, which Kuzkova won on Sunday, DPA news agency reported.
Kuzkova supports the Moscow army club CSKA and is herself an amateur player.
The executive director of the Premier League, Sergei Cheban, told Sport Express that although the league did not “tolerate manifestations of fascism, nationalism and racism,” people should show “understanding” with regard to the situation.
“We have all made mistakes in our youth,” he said. “I’ll be glad if this situation helps Olga sort out her views.”
Kuzkova’s case highlights the problem of racism in Russian football, which has become a key issue ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Russia in three years’ time.
Last season, two Moscow teams – Spartak and Torpedo – were handed penalties after fans shouted out monkey chants to Brazilian striker Givanildo Vieira de Souza, nicknamed “Hulk,” who plays in the St. Petersburg team, Zenit.
De Souza said on Monday that he experiences racism in almost every match and that the FIFA championship would reveal the ingrained problem to the world.
Russia is planning to allot 10.3 billion euros ($11.3 billion) to the World Cup, among other things for the construction or upgrade of stadiums in 11 cities.