FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 5, 2011 file photo, Ghanaian soccer player Emmanuel Frimpong speaks during a press conference in Athens. FIFA has asked the Russian Football Union to explain why it banned a Ghanaian footballer for two matches for his reaction to fan racism and did not sanction the alleged abusers' team. In video from Friday, July 17, 2015's Russian Premier League game, Spartak Moscow fans could be heard racially taunting FC Ufa midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong. Reacting with a finger gesture to the fans led to Frimpong being banned for two games, while Spartak escaped punishment over the latest racism incident to blight Russian football ahead of the 2018 World Cup. The RFU found no evidence of racism (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, file)

In this Monday, Dec. 5, 2011 file photo, Ghanaian soccer player Emmanuel Frimpong speaks during a press conference in Athens. FIFA has asked the Russian Football Union to explain why it banned a Ghanaian footballer for two matches for his reaction to fan racism and did not sanction the alleged abusers’ team. In video from Friday, July 17, 2015’s Russian Premier League game, Spartak Moscow fans could be heard racially taunting FC Ufa midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong. Reacting with a finger gesture to the fans led to Frimpong being banned for two games, while Spartak escaped punishment over the latest racism incident to blight Russian football ahead of the 2018 World Cup. The RFU found no evidence of racism (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, file)

The Russian Football Union is facing criticism after banning a Ghanaian player for two matches due to his angry reaction to alleged racist abuse.

In video footage of the July 17 game, Spartak Moscow fans could be heard spewing monkey chants at FC Ufa midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong, who is Black, around the 30th minute of the Russian Premier League’s first match of the season. The former Arsenal player was then escorted off the field after flipping the bird at his tormentors.

On July 22, the RFU’s Disciplinary Committee said they found no evidence of racism, and benched Frimpong for two games. The move was supported by the Russian Premier League.

“The video cameras did not pick up any evidence of gestures. There were no gestures aimed at the footballer,” Russian Premier League security director Alexander Meytin said in an interview with Russian sports website Championat.com.

Frimpong said he gladly accepted the slap on the wrist for his rude gesture, but could not believe officials were denying what happened.

“We live in a crazy world,” wrote the 23-year-old footballer on Twitter. “For the Russian FA to say they didn’t hear or see any evidence of racism is beyond a joke.

“Want to apologise for the sending off after being provoked,” he added. “Shouldn’t have happened but also am a human being shouldn’t be racially abused for the game that I love.”

This is the latest incident of racism plaguing Russian football, adding to the mushrooming cloud over the 2018 World Cup, which will be hosted by the East European country.

In December 2010, within hours of the country being awarded the FIFA vote to host its first World Cup, Russian leader Vladimir Putin said on football racism: “We see it and we believe it is a problem,” according to several news reports.

In February, FARE, an anti-football discrimination organization, released a report documenting more than 200 cases of discriminatory actions linked to Russian football over two seasons.

“It shows a really quite gruesome picture of a domestic league which is full of aspects of racism and xenophobia,” Fare executive director Piara Powar said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Russia has “no clear understanding what racism is,” said Yuri Boychenko, who heads the anti-discrimination section of the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, as cited by the AP. “It is not black and white only, racism and racial discrimination is about the issue of ethnicities, religious affiliation, culture and language.”

Boychenko was among UN and FIFA officials who have asked the Russian Football Union for answers surrounding its decision to ban Frimpong for two games.

“We don’t have a direct responsibility for what’s happening in the Russian league,” said FIFA sustainability head Federico Addiechi, according to the AP. “But if the Russian Football Union are in need of our support, and I think they are, then we can provide certain support.”