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France's midfielder Paul Pogba (C) concentrates before scoring the team's second goal during an international friendly football match between Russia and France at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on March 27, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

World Cup host nation Russia has been charged with racism by FIFA following a friendly match against France in March.

As reported by the Associated Press, FIFA has confirmed “disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the Russian Football Union (RFU) for this incident.”

Monkey chants were heard coming from the stands at the St. Petersburg Stadium directed at France’s black players, with Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba one of those targeted.

The charge will be a concern to organisers of the World Cup, with the start of the competition in less than two months’ time. Russia face Saudi Arabia in Moscow on June 14 in the opener, while the venue in St. Petersburg will host a number of matches, including one of the semi-finals.

Sky Sports News’ Kaveh Solhekol outlined some of the issues the country has been having with racism in the buildup to the tournament before this latest issue:

The Associated Press also noted Russian fans have been charged with racism at the last two European Championships, with the RFU fined on both occasions.

Speaking about the most recent incident, the RFU’s anti-discrimination inspector, Alexei Smertin, said he would be doing what he can to help out FIFA’s inquest.

“The Russian Football Union is ready to take an active part in it (the FIFA probe) and is already conducting an internal investigation,” he said, per Reuters. “We are looking for the people who were shouting. They should not be at soccer stadiums.”

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