Zenit St. Petersburg’s striker and Russian Premier League’s most expensive signing, Hulk has blasted Russia, citing he encounters racism in “almost every game”, while the Brazilian fears that it might affect the image of the country, which will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The Brazilian has encountered monkey chants many times during his stay in Russia, and even allegedly was racially abused by a referee during a game. In the first game of the Russian Premier League between FC Ufa and Spartak Moscow, racist chants were audible against Emmanuel Frimpong, a former Arsenal FC player, and he was subsequently sent-off for responding with an offensive gesture.

I just send a kiss to our fans and try not to get angry- Hulk on racism

Hulk himself had been allegedly racially abused by a referee, Alexei Matyunin during a game last December, however the committee found the referee ‘not guilty’ due to insufficient evidence. In light of former Arsenal FC midfielder, Emmanuel Frimpong having been sent off for responding to racist chants, while The 28-year-old said:

“If (racism) happens in the World Cup, it will be really gross and really ugly. Usually it happens when Russian clubs play and it doesn’t come out to the world and the world doesn’t know about this.

“I must say that almost every game I see this happening. I used to get angry, but now I see this doesn’t help, so I just send a kiss to our fans and try not to get angry.”

World Cup organizing committee, CEO Alexei Sorokin, denied that the racism problem was aggravated in Russia and it will not reflect in the World Cup. Responding to question regarding Hulk’s comments Sorokin said: “We quite naturally acknowledge the problem that clearly does not exist only in Russia, but many other countries.”

“It was wrong to just take individual outbreaks in the Russian Premier League and automatically extrapolate them on the World Cup, because the World Cup is a different atmosphere, it’s a different public, if you will, so it doesn’t reflect automatically on the World Cup.”

Frimpong later took to Twitter, to make his feelings known regarding the abuse he got, for the game he loved.

Does Russia have the most racist fans?

FARE, an anti-discrimination group, had published a report in February, where it reported to have found more than 200 cases of racism and discriminatory behavior from Russian fans in two seasons, one of the highest in the World. However, this figure has been disputed by the Russian government.

Last year, two clubs, Spartak Moscow and Torpedo were punished, after their fans were found guilty of ‘monkey chants’ against Hulk. Both of these clubs are situated in Moscow, the Russian Capital, which is set to host the finals of the 2018 World Cup.

The Ghanaian FA has condemned the “vile racist abuse” faced by Frimpong, and have asked the UEFA, FIFA and Russian Football Union to send a strong signal to those guilty of such a shameful act.

With, the World Cup less than 3 years away, The Russian Football Union should take the sternest of actions, to curb such racist chants, if they are to save their face during the World Cup.