In Bahrain for the 67th FIFA Congress, the Russian Football Union's Inspector to combat racism and discrimination in football, Alexey 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 Bahrain VVVV Pat Kennedy and President of the Irish Society Janet Craven. Alexey is a close friend of Irish legend Damien Duff and well versed in Irish sports. Presented with a Bahrain GAA shirt, Alexey was questioned about how Russia is preparing for the Confederations and World Cups, as well as the possibility of a warm welcome for Irish fans following Martin, Roy and the Boys to the Finals next Summer.
Bahrain GAA Chief Pat Kennedy is very familiar with Moscow and Russia, having spent 10 years in Alexey'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, Alan Moore, that the Bahrain presentation took place. Alan is a Sports Columnist and Radio Host in Moscow, and works with Alexey on the #WeAreRussia anti-racism and discrimination World Cup program.
As reported last month Alexey 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.
This weekend (May 12-14) Aisling and the Moscow Shamrocks GFC Ladies and Mens Teams travel to Stockholm for the 1st Round of the Gaelic Games Europe European Championship (Nordic Region). It is the first competitive outing for a Russian GAA club.