The terrifying sound in their ears that Russia refuses to hear
Published 25/07/2015 | 02:30
Unless you've the hearing capacity of a concrete block, you can't really miss the monkey chants audible on video of Emmanuel Frimpong's dismissal in Russia last week.
The former Arsenal player received a two-game ban for his reaction to abuse from Spartak Moscow fans, subsequently declaring the official conclusion that there had been no instances of racism as "beyond a joke".
It's a commotion the Russians could happily have done without in the lead-up to today's preliminary draw for the 2018 World Cup.
On Thursday night, BBC broadcast 'Far Right and Proud: Reggie Yates', a hugely disturbing documentary on the rise of a toxic form of extreme nationalism in Russia. This introduced us to an atmosphere of hatred towards immigrants (of which there are 11 million in the country, mostly Muslim) as well as a knife-culture that was, frankly, terrifying.
Racism and homophobia both seem to have such traction in modern Russian society, you cannot but wonder about the simple matter of individual safety for visitors three years from now.
But then this is an old story, an old argument. Qatar's human rights violations, not to mention its microwave climate, didn't preclude it from getting the nod as 2022 hosts. The idea that bid-countries need to tick anything beyond a commercial box simply doesn't survive adult scrutiny.
Russia will fulfil its obligations of architectural confection and efficient infrastructure. But stadium boom-mikes might just pick up the ugly strains of a story they don't want told.