CSKA Moscow last night risked reopening a racism row on the eve of their rematch with Manchester City by suggesting they had been the victims of a witch-hunt.
The Russian team were last week ordered to close a section of their stadium for their next Champions League home game, after European governing body Uefa upheld City’s complaint that Ivorian star Yaya Toure was subjected to monkey chants by some CSKA supporters.
CSKA manager Leonid Slutsky yesterday reiterated the club’s stance that they had not been aware of any abuse, saying: “We did not hear any racist slur so it is difficult to comment.”
He added: “The club is categorically against racism, but we think the situation has been exaggerated and that there has been an overreaction. We have received our punishment, it was up to Uefa.”
City boss Manuel Pellegrini, however, backed Uefa’s decision. “The CSKA fans made a mistake,” he said. “Uefa acted and gave them the punishment it deserved. I hope we can leave this in the past and it will be an example for them.”
The two sides meet tonight in Manchester, a fortnight after City’s 2-1 win in Moscow. The Premier League club complained to Uefa’s match delegate about Toure’s treatment afterwards.
CSKA’s punishment is part of new rules introduced this season by Uefa aimed at tackling racism. A repeat of the incident would earn them a complete stadium closure.