Russia has banned a footballer who suffered homophobic abuse
Russia has banned a player who was homophobically abused.
Yohan Mollo, a midfielder for Zenit St Petersburg, has been suspended for two games by the Russian Football Union after giving the middle finger to his abusers.
The French player had to endure repeated chants of “Mollo is a faggot” during the match against FC Sibir Novosibirsk last week, according to Russian news site Sovsport.
Mollo, who signed for Zenit in January, responded by flipping off the fans as he left the pitch for half-time.
As well as the two-game ban, the authorities also fined him 20,000 rubles (£250) – and his club has said that it will also sanction him.
The abuse came after an Instagram post by Mollo showed him in bed, being kissed on the forehead by another man.
The 28-year-old received a barrage of abuse for the video, which he later deleted.
It was subsequently revealed that the other man in the post was Mollo’s father.
But despite being punished for reacting to the wretched abuse, he told Russian news outlet Sport-Express: “It was just a joke – they were playing with me and I did the same.
“Sorry, but there is no point in discussing a problem that does not exist,” he added.
Zenit president Sergei Fursenko told news site Championat that Mollo’s punishment was “fair,” pointing to then-Spartak Moscow player Emmanuel Frimpong’s ban for flipping off racist fans in 2015.
He added: “Where is [the] injustice here? Do you remember when the disciplinary gave the same sanction to a Spartak player for a similar offence?
“There will be additional sanctions from the club to Mollo.
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“We are also working with fans to prevent such things, we don’t deny our responsibility.”
Earlier this year, FIFA threatened to abandon matches at the Confederations Cup in Russia if fans chanted homophobic slurs.
Ramzan Kadyrov, the homophobic leader of Russian region Chechnya, has ruled over a gay purge while calling gay men “devils. They are for sale. They are not people.”
He has used football as a tool for publicity, posing with Brazilian footballing legend Ronaldinho last month to distract from the kidnappings, torture and murder of gay men in the region.