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Russian club release Congolese defender after fan protest

Torpedo Moscow cancelled the contract of defender Ervin Botaka-Yoboma on Thursday, after a group of ultras protested his re-signing in a series of racially motivated online posts.

The 19-year-old centre-back, who is a Russian citizen of Congolese descent, and a graduate of the club's youth academy, had returned to the club less than a week ago.

However, after Torpedo announced his signature, members of the Zapad-5 ultra group took to social media site VK to protest against the player's return [as per Goal].

A statement published on the site suggested that Torpedo's decision represented a lack of regard for the "rules and traditions" of the club, while adding that while black may be one of the club's colours, they "only want whites in our ranks".

Torpedo subsequently released a statement defending the decision to axe the youngster, and insisted that his exit had not been influenced by the fan backlash.

"Torpedo Football Club regrets that the transfer of player Erving Botaka-Yoboma to our club caused a sharp reaction," the statement began.

"We declare that our transfer policy is exclusively based on sporting principles. We oppose any form of discrimination.

"The cancellation of Erving Botaka-Yoboma's transfer is solely related to the cost of transfer. [He] was offered to sign a contract, the transfer was to take place free of charge.

"However, on July 17, 2018, we received a letter from the previous club of the player with a warning about a compensation payout requirement. In accordance with the policy of the club, which does not include payment for transfers, the transfer did not take place.

"There were no other reasons to refuse the services of the player. We will make every effort to ensure that such situation will not occur in the future."

Botaka-Yoboma was born in the town of Pushkino, 33 km from the Russian capital, and previously represented Lokomotiv Moscow.

Despite the ultras' vehement response to Botaka-Yoboma's return, he isn't the first player of African origin to represent the three-time champions.

In 1997, Nigeria's Augustine Eguavoen featured for Torpedo, and in doing so, became the first black player to feature in the Russian football.

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