Anti-Racism Inspector Aleksey Smertin Express Optimism About Upcoming Tournaments

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In Bahrain for the 67th FIFA Congress, the Russian Football Union’s inspector to combat racism and discrimination in football, Aleksey Smertin, took time out to meet leading members of the Irish community in the Gulf Kingdom.

The former Chelsea, Portsmouth, Fulham player, and Russian national team captain, met with chairperson of Arabian Celts GFC Pat Kennedy and president of the Irish Society Janet Noone. Being a close friend of Irish football legend Damien Duff, whom he played together with at Chelsea, Smertin is well versed in Irish sports, which he showed during the meeting. Presented with an Arabian Celts GFC shirt, part of the Gaelic Athletic Association family, which promotes Irish sport and culture around the world, Smertin was questioned about how Russia is preparing for the upcoming Confederations Cup and World Cup as well as the possibility of a warm welcome for Irish fans following their heroes to the tournaments.

To this, Smertin replied that he was very excited about the tournaments, and firmly believes that Russia will be an amazing host. Furthermore, he is determined to use the tournaments in a way which will help the Russian society as a whole.

Bahrain GAA Chief Pat Kennedy is very familiar with Moscow and Russia, having spent ten years in Smertin’s homeland and allowed one of Bahrain’s prized players, Aisling Kinsella, to leave for Moscow last year. Carlow woman Aisling is currently Bainisteoir/Head Coach of the Moscow Shamrocks Ladies Team.

It was thanks to Aisling and the Shamrocks Men’s Team Bainisteoir and Russian Football News writer Alan Moore, that the Bahrain presentation took place. As well as writing for RFN, Moore is also a sports columnist and radio host in Moscow, and works with Smertin on the #WeAreRussia anti-racism and discrimination World Cup program.

As reported last month, Smertin was appointed by the RFU to head a program to remove racism and discrimination from Russian stadia and does so in co-operation with fellow ex-Russian star Roman Shirokov and the All Russia Football Players Union.

Talking about this project, Smertin was very passionate, as he explained that he feels it reaches from children in kindergarden to professional footballers to the highest levels of government. The impact of the World Cup will be massive and help with his project to bring together Russian society.

He knows it is a long, tough journey, but as a marathon runner he knows the task. He is working non-stop with the RFU, ARFPU and many other bodies to ensure that the Confederations Cup and World Cup will be the most beneficial for any country in the history of the event.

Last weekend, Aisling, Alan and the Moscow Shamrocks GFC Ladies and Mens teams traveled to Stockholm for the first Round of the Gaelic Games Europe European Championship (Nordic Region). They made history as this was the first competitive outing for a Russian GAA club.

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Toke Møller Theilade

Author: Toke Møller Theilade

Brøndby supporter, groundhopper and more importantly Editor-in-Chief at Russianfootballnews.com. As a hopeless romantic, I still believe Fyodor Smolov and Viktoria Lopyreva has a future together.

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