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Russia needs united football fans’ association — sports minister

September 26, 21:12 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The minister notes that security and fans behavior is in the particular focus of the Russian football authorities
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Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko

© Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

MOSCOW, September 26. /TASS/. An association uniting all fans’ movements of Russian football clubs must be set up in the country to help the sport of football co-exist with spectators, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Monday.

"Undoubtedly, we must work with football fans movements and we need to form an association," Mutko, who is also the president of the Russian Football Union (RFU), said in an interview with Rossiya-24 television channel.

"We have already held meetings with the leaders of the fans movements of the country’s top football clubs and asked them what kind of a system they wanted to see," Mutko said. "Let it be the association, although without the status of a legal entity at the moment."

"We want all fans organizations of professional football clubs to be united in some sort of an association, which would be expressing their interests," the Russian sports chief said.

"Sometimes the developments at stadium’s spectator seats are a manifestation of a protest against something," Mutko said. "In all, they are our youth, they are our boys and they are not aliens at stadiums."

The previous All-Russian Fans Union (ARFU), established in 2007 and led by Alexander Shprygin, was officially disbanded by a decision made over the weekend at the RFU Conference in Moscow.

The decision was made following mass violent disturbances involving Russian football fans during the 2016 UEFA Euro Cup held in France this summer.

Numerous clashes were reported between football fans at the major European football tournament held in France between June 10 and July 10. Most notorious altercations erupted between Russian and English fans ahead of the June 11th match. Brawls began on June 9 in Marseille peaking at the match day on June 12.

Law enforcement resorted to tear gas, smoke pellets and water cannons to disperse the brawlers. Over 30 people were reported to be hurt in clashes, with four people hospitalized after sustaining severe injuries.

On June 14, French law enforcers stopped a bus with over 43 Russian football fans en-route from Marseille to Lille, where their national team played its second group stage match against Slovakia.

A court in Marseille ruled in mid-June to sentence three detained Russian football fans, namely Alexei Yerunov, Sergei Gorbachev and Nikolai Morozov, to prison terms between 12 and 24 months after finding them guilty of taking part in mass disturbances at the 2016 Euro Cup match between England and Russia

Two months ago Russian Football Premier League (RFPL) President Sergei Pryadkin announced that the league launched tests of fans identification system during the 2016/2017 season.

Security and fans behavior before, during and after football matches is in the particular focus of the Russian football authorities as the country is currently in full swing preparations for hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2018.\

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