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Crowd violence could harm Russian World Cup bid

by at 06/10/2010 13:27

An outbreak of football hooliganism at the recent match between Anzhi Makhachkala and Spartak Moscow has drawn a stern response from the Dagestan club.

But the potential embarrassment for Russia’s football authorities could continue in the run-up to the announcement of the 2018 World Cup hosts.

 

The English disease

During a summer of tabloid mudslinging between Russia and rival bidders England journalists in Moscow were quick to point out English fans’ repeated problems with hooliganism.

Although many in football’s homeland feel rioting fans are a relic of the past, Russian reporters gleefully reminded the world of English fan rampages home and away in response to allegations of corruption in the domestic game here.

But reports of a Spartak supporters’ coach being shot at in Makhachkala, while fans clashed inside and outside the stadium, is the last thing Russia’s 2018 bid needs.

 

Official slapdown

The head coach of Anzhi, a newly-promoted Premier League team, was quick to rebuke the official fan club – and said before the game fans had been asked not to respond to taunts from Spartak.

Hadji Hadjiev told Sovietsky Sport: “We understand it is linked to the behaviour of red and white fans when we played in Moscow, but we cannot accept this.

“We are well aware that an extremist group of Spartak fans has created an intolerable situation at different stadiums, and the executive director of the club Sayid Abdullayev met our fan representatives several times to ask them not to react.”

 

Terrace warfare

During Sunday’s game rival fans clashed on the terraces of Anzhi’s stadium, while members of the hosts’ “Dikaya Divisiya” (Wild Movement) fan group displayed a banner accusing Spartak fans of fascism.

After the match the Spartak team bus was pelted with stones and a supporters coach was fired on with traumatic weapons.

 

Andorran apples

It’s the second recent crowd trouble scandal to hit Russian football: during last month’s Euro 2012 qualifier in Andorra a group of fans broke into an orchard overlooking the Pyrenean stadium and pelted players with apples.

UEFA’s delegate at the game also reported racist chanting from Russian supporters, though Russian Football Union president Sergei Fursenko claimed the perpetrators were not really Russian.

There was a further racism scandal at the end of August when Lokomotiv Moscow sold Nigerian forward Piter Odemwingie to West Bromwich Albion.

Loko fans produced a banner to mark the unpopular player’s departure – which prominently included a banana.

For many years black players have been taunted with bananas and monkey noises, though it was later suggested that the image referred to a Russian expression where buying a banana means buying shoddy merchandise.

 

World Cup decision

Russia hopes to be awarded host status for the World Cup in either 2018 or 2022 and an impressive and ambitious bid has earned them strong support in some quarters.

Most commentators believe it is a two-way battle with England for the right to stage the tournament.

World governing body FIFA will annouce its decision early in December.

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