Russia: New restrictions for fans ahead of 2018 World Cup

source: vestnikkavkaza.net

Russia: New restrictions for fans ahead of 2018 World Cup New bill regulating behavior of supporters is being prepared in Russia. Supposed to be based on English, German and Polish legislation it puts new restrictions on fans, but is also discussed with them, “Vestnik Kavkaza” reports.

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Football games of all levels attracted just over 1.5 million people in the last year – a figure hardly impressive, many times lower than in Germany and England. Even more – a lot lower than in neighboring Poland. Which may be among reasons for legislation changes by Interior Ministry. Those are planned ahead of the upcoming 2018 World Cup and should increase safety inside Russian venues within just a few years.

The three countries listed above aren’t mentioned accidentally, as Yuri Demidov, Head of the Protection of Public Order Department in the ministry assures experiences of these countries will be crucial.

And just like in those three countries, supporters may expect strong opposition and increased penalties not only for hooliganism, but also for the use of pyrotechnics, offensive behavior or illegal banner content among others.

With this bill, for the first time we will and should legally define such terms as "spectator" and "controller-organizer" at football matches; sanctions and responsibilities of organizers of football matches and sports stadium owners to ensure safety and security. It provides that the safety regulations and rules of conduct of spectators will be approved in the future in connection with the federal law by the government of Russia, says Demidov.

Apart from setting clear definitions, new legislation is to introduce new tools for dealing with football-related offences. Stadium bans that aren’t used by Russian authorities yet will appear for the first time, but we may expect this to be only one of numerous aspects as the law is to regulate the whole area of football-related safety, including responsibilities of all parties (organizers, police, fans, etc.) and technical requirements.

And though based partly on Polish experiences, this bill differs at one point: it’s being consulted with supporters themselves, unlike it happened in Poland. Vsevolod Alekseev, leader of the All-Russian Fans Association, agrees that new regulations are necessary. But in his opinion this bill may easily be directed only against supporters with barely any responsibility of police, security or organizers recognized, like it happened before in Poland.   

On the part of the All-Russian Fans Association we recognize that there is a problem of offences at football matches from fans. There is. But there is also the problem of violation of legal rights and interests of those same fans at matches, which often provokes fans to commit these offences. On the first issue we talk willingly and actively. On the second issue, we have to speak, but it often gets changed, overwritten, or neglected. Meanwhile, the current situation is such that a fan, despite the fact that the whole civilized world and the professional football position are meant as a game for fans, is the most powerless subject of football, Alekseev says.

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