Coach of Russia's FC Rostov hit with 5-game ban over comments about black players

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MOSCOW — A Russian soccer coach who said he would not sign "dark-skinned players" received a five-game ban Wednesday for racial discrimination.

The punishment is the strongest sanction for racism handed out to a player or coach by the Russian Football Union.

Igor Gamula told Russian journalists last month that FC Rostov had "enough dark-skinned players" and "we've got six of the things" when asked in post-match news conference about rumors the club would sign a Cameroon defender.

He also made what he called a "joke" about the Ebola virus.

Gamula, who holds Russian and Ukrainian nationality, apologized three days later after Rostov's African players threatened to go on strike.

In a statement on its website, the Russian Football Union said the comments were "of a disparaging or discriminatory nature toward a group of persons regarding race or skin color."

The 54-year-old coach's ban will end in March due to the Russian league's three-month winter break.

The city of Rostov will host World Cup matches in 2018.

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