The FINANCIAL -- Russia's sports minister Vitaly Mutko has rejected claims that the
country's football fans racially abused Czech player Theodor Gebre
Selassie, instead suggesting the charges were a misunderstanding.
"I attended this match and watched everything with my own eyes," Mutko was quoted as saying in a number of publications in Russia. "There wasn't any racial abuse. It's all rubbish and untrue."
European football's governing body UEFA is looking at the allegations after a complaint from a racism monitoring group at Euro 2012, which is being held in Poland and Ukraine .
According to EUbusiness, UEFA is already taking disciplinary action against the Russian football federation after fans lit and threw fireworks and displayed potentially inflammatory "Russian Empire" flags at the ground in Wroclaw.
Mutko was adamant, though, that there was no racist abuse. Instead he said travelling Russian fans had been unhappy at the Czech fans' refusal to take part in a "Mexican wave".
"Our fans launched the wave but the Czechs refused to stand up. Our fans began condemning the Czechs in reply and that's all," he was quoted as saying, noting that senior UEFA officials said nothing about racial abuse on the night.