Fifa charged World Cup host Russia with fan racism on Tuesday , less than two months before the tournament begins.
Monkey chants were aimed at black French players, including Paul Pogba, during France’s 3-1 friendly win over Russia in St Petersburg last month.
“Disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the Russian Football Union for this incident,” Fifa said.
The RFU said it is cooperating with the Fifa investigation.
“A request has been made to the Interior Ministry to identify several persons who were involved in these incidents,” RFU anti-discrimination officer Alexei Smertin was quoted as saying on Monday (Tuesday NZT) by the Tass news agency. “If these people’s guilt is proven, then there’s a high likelihood they won’t be allowed to attend World Cup and Russian league games.”
Russia was previously charged with racist behaviour by its fans at the last two European Championships. On both occasions, the RFU paid a fine.
It’s the third racism case this season at St Petersburg Stadium, which will host a World Cup semifinal match. Zenit St Petersburg has twice faced UEFA charges for racism by its fans in Europa League games.
Zenit fans flew a banner praising convicted war criminal Ratko Mladic when playing a Macedonian club in November and are accused of using a racially charged term to mock an injured black player in a game against Leipzig. The second case is due to be heard by UEFA on May 31, two weeks before the World Cup begins.
Meanwhile, animal rights groups have condemned the use of a bear that performed before a Russian football match.
The routine happened before a Russia second division match on Sunday (Monday NZT) in the city of Pyatigorsk. TV footage from the game showed the animal being led to the Mashuk-KMV Pyatigorsk club’s stadium, clapping at spectators. The bear, named Tima, also held the ball before handing it over to the referee.
The stadium’s announcer claimed that the bear will take part in the World Cup’s opening ceremony in Moscow in June, but football authorities haven’t confirmed that. The club’s manager says it was borrowed from a circus.
The New York-based World Animal Protection group condemned the stunt, saying that it’s clear from the footage that “cruel training methods have been used” on the bear.