England fans have been issued a warning – they are “100% guaranteed” to be the target for Russian hooligans at the 2018 World Cup. They have also said that the tournament will be “a festival of violence” for some locals.
Hooliganism and football is a phrase everyone is familiar with, but it has been largely absent from recent international competitions. However, Euro 2016 in France saw a return of this ill-affair. England and Russian supporters conflicted over and over in Marseille and in Lille when the tournament started. Tear gas, stun grenades and baton charges were used against fans from England, Russia, Slovakia and France who all gathered in the city to watch different games.
There were concerns among senior British government officials that the Kremlin, sanctioned the violence unleashed by Russian hooligans. The alleged organiser of the trouble, known as Vasily the Killer, has said: “They were special military forces of football hooligans sent by Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin to conquer Europe.”
These alarming claims have been made in a documentary, Russia’s Hooligan Army.
One of the hooligans at the centre of the Marseille violence last year at the Euros, “Denis” has claimed that England fans will unquestionably be subjected to violence again if they travel to Russia next June. “They can come over and we’ll see. Somebody will obviously try to do something, that is like 100% – 100% guaranteed,” he said.
Another anonymous hooligan interviewed stated that the reason England supporters were targeted because Englishmen are the “forefathers of hooliganism”.
He also added, “For some, it will be a festival of football, for others, it will be a festival of violence.”
Meanwhile, Fifa President Gianni Infantino recently said that he has “full confidence” in the Russian authorities to combat any trouble next summer.
“They have been in contact with Uefa and French organisers to learn the lessons from France,” he said.
“As part of this, the Russian government has put in place an ID system which will help us when it comes to any potential trouble.”
Infantino’s words are assuring, but the disturbing claims made in this documentary surely reestablished the need for effective policies that are urgently needed if the social invention of football is to be protected from the serious threat posed by hooliganism. FIFA, as well as the Russian authorities, will have to assure the world, and now especially the England supporters, that they will be safe to attend the games. There have to be more active and better-constructed policies to tackle this problem, ones which haven’t been offered so far.