In the West after the events in Marseilles fear of fighting in time for the 2018 world Cup in Russia. Why Russian football hooliganism has moved to Europe and expect if riots during the world Cup?On the eve of the world Cup in Russia, many in the West concern is the question of what to expect visiting fans from local fans. Still fresh memories of the last major football tournament, Euro 2016 in France, during which there were mass clashes involving the Russians and the British in the centre of Marseille. DW tells how the fan movement in Russia has changed in the run-up to the 2018 world Cup, and why many Russian fans can generally leave the country at the time of the world Cup.
“Dialogue with the fans gave at the mercy of security forces”
Russia won the right to host the world Cup in December 2010. At the ceremony announcing the host country of the tournament, the then sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has amused the world with his famous speech “lets mi ACNP Frome may HART”. But soon football fans in Russia became not to jokes. Around the same time began to increase the pressure on them from law enforcement agencies, says in an interview with DW founder of Telegram-channel of fan movement “Could house-sit,” Vlad MDS.
But after the events in Marseilles, the Russian authorities finally “stopped the dialogue with the fans and gave it solely at the mercy of security forces”, said in an interview with DW, the head of the all-Russia Association of fans (VOB) Alexander Spragin. So, after a fight of fans of “Spartacus” and CSKA at the end of January 2016, when on the eve of the ice hockey Derby in the heart of the building of the state Archives in Moscow, came together about 200 people, almost for the first time in Russia opened a criminal case on this occasion. Before the participants of fan fights usually got off with administrative fines.
A fan in the eyes of the Kremlin – loyal to the extremist or
Football fanaticism in Russia began in the Soviet period, in 1970, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union was rapidly gaining strength. “In the late 90s, the fight was unlimited. The faction leaders went to the construction market and asked to cut hundreds of valves 80 cm in length. Before the fight they distributed. Sometimes even knives were used,” – said the head of the VOB Alexander Spragin. At the time of the collision was massive, involving hundreds of people, and took place in the city centre. By the beginning of zero came the real blossoming of the fan movement in Russia, says the Spragin.
At the same time the state began to learn more about the topic football fans. Soon after the riots on Manezh square in Moscow in June 2002 because of the loss of the Russian team at the world Cup to the Japanese, the state Duma adopted the law on combating extremism, which before these events was subjected to serious criticism. Around the same time, the Department for combating extremism (until 2008 on the fight against organized crime) drew attention for football fans, says the head of the VOB.
The Kremlin began to work with the fans and in the other direction. “There were a lot of examples when the government tried to build loyal relationships with groups of commands to use them for their own purposes,” – said the Creator of Telegram channel on the fan movement Vlad MDS.
Mentions about this and the journalist Mikhail Zygar in the book “the Kremlin’s men”, describing the emergence in 2005 of the Pro-Kremlin youth movement “Nashi”, initiated by the then Deputy head of the presidential administration Vladislav Surkov in response to the Ukrainian “orange revolution”: “In a sanatorium near Moscow, belonging to the Office of the President, the first Congress of the new movement – they were former activists of Pro-Kremlin groups, student activists from the capital’s universities as well as representatives of associations of football fans. They were to form the basis of “youth units of the order.”
Forest battle, hiding information and legalization fans
In the second half of the 2000s, football fans began to get away from the attention of law enforcement in the truest sense of the word in the woods. Moreover, according to Alexander Spriggina, then the police is even openly encouraged: “Now is difficult to imagine, but 15 years ago operas could summon the leaders of the fans and say, “Guys, take a train, ride in the forest and each other though kill, this is not our area of responsibility. And we are important to tomorrow during the Derby in town, God forbid nothing happened.”
The result of fan movement was divided into “ultras and okolofutbolnyh”. Ultras are engaged in the activity on the stadium and banners, and okolofutbolnye – fights. “Many believe that this is not fanaticism, but, roughly speaking, a separate kind of sport. People 3-4 months do not get out of the gyms to get into such a fight that lasts two minutes. While participants in these forest battles sometimes can’t name five players off of the teams for which they are fighting,” – said the source DW.
The number of fighting also became restricted – likely to occur the so-called “sabuy” (agreement on the fight) format from 10 to 30 people on each side. To get to them can be the most prepared after selection by the leaders of the movements. The fan subculture “gone into hiding information,” confirms Vlad MDS. “Many recorded videos of fights are held in private collections on computers, and are laid out in 5-6 years,” he adds.
At the same time in the second half of the 2000s, many football fans have become “legalized”, explains Alexander Spragin, that is, to create associations. He compares this with the transition to bureaucratic positions of former leaders of organized crime groups. In 2007 was established and EO. Before that Spragin was part of the fan movement of the Dynamo Moscow and was the head of the fan club of this team. “With us on constant contact was the Minister of sport, EO introduced in the RFU, twice met Putin, the presidents of FIFA and UEFA. I was a member of the organizing Committee “Russia-2018″ in Moscow,” he said. But in one moment everything changed.
“Prevention before the world Cup”
The head of the VOB refers to the events in Marseilles in the summer of 2016 “point of breakdown”. “EO called guilty for the behavior of fans in France and was expelled from the RFU,” says Alexander Spragin. His organization is currently completely suspended the activity: “What to do next, we will decide after the world Cup, when the situation is normalized”. With the leaders of fan movements in the past two years, regularly conduct preventive conversations as the staff of the center to combat extremism and the FSB. “Not everyone can withstand, when the call from police, criminal investigation Department and invited for a conversation, it goes on systematically, and there is a “hook” – says the head of the VOB.
He notes that “lawlessness” when it happens, but “even for the most minor infraction at fans bombarded the repressive apparatus and procedural mechanisms.” In the case of violations at the stadiums or outside arenas, are serial searches, detentions, interrogations, and criminal cases. “This kind of prevention in anticipation of the world Cup,” concludes the source DW.
According to the Creator Telagram channel “Could house-sit” in the Russian law enforcement agencies have long lists of all active fans. In addition, cell football firms (the group of radical fans), obviously, began to infiltrate people associated with law enforcement. “The police and the more serious the authorities somehow got to know about the many pre-planned fights,” continued Vlad MDS.
Foreigners at the world Cup in Russia, and Russian fans – out of the country?
As a result of pressure from the security forces many fans of “the left encyclopedias, retired”, says the founder Telagram channel about fan movement. In recent years, many regional fan groups began to claim that they suspend their activities, “until the fall attention of law enforcement bodies”. It is likely that many representatives of the Russian fan movement at all will be abroad during the 2018 world Cup. “As far as I know, many fans recommended that at the time of the world Cup to spend the holidays outside of Russia, so they had an alibi if suddenly there will be some clashes”, – says Vlad MDS. Heard about such conversations and Alexander Spragin.
The DW sides agree that serious clashes during the world Cup should not be expected. “Wherever there is football, sports, emotions, and events, can be some local skirmishes,” – said the head of the VOB. However, major fights, in Marseilles “impossible at the current level of security,” he said. “The Russian police will respond differently than the police in Marseille, which simply watched the fighting. We will not allow even large groups to get together,” suggests Spragin.
“I don’t know what should now make at least one group of Russian fans so lose one’s mind, to during the world Cup, which will be probably the most protected, to lock horns with someone at the Central square of the city. I think it’s definitely impossible” – echoes Vlad MDS.
Russian hooliganism moved to Europe
Negative image of the Russian fans has developed in recent years in Europe, may be associated with emerging trend fans from Russia “to come to Europe, hooliganism and unnoticed return” as formulated Alexander Spragin.
“Some have this idea that in Europe you can always blend in with the crowd, to bring to the stadium that in Russia it is hard to carry, you can drink alcohol on the street, do whatever you want. A sense of relative impunity – sums up the Creator Telagram channel “Could house sit.” – People now prefer to do it in a quiet and peaceful Europe than contact with Russian realities, where everyone understands what that means”.