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Official expects BBC documentary on Russian football hooligans to be ‘nothing but fiction’

February 16, 2017, 20:50 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Russia is currently in full-swing preparations for the global football tournaments

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MOSCOW, February 16. /TASS/. A documentary about Russian football hooligans, set to be broadcast by Britain’s BBC2 television channel later on Thursday night, will be "nothing but fiction" aimed to discredit the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, a senior Russian football official told TASS.

The UK-based daily, The Guardian, reported earlier in the day that BBC2 would show a documentary, in which Russian hooligans were warning British football fans about a ‘festival of violence’ in response to the notorious clashes in French Marseille last year during the games of the 2016 UEFA Euro Cup.

"The documentary preview about Russian football fans, who allegedly seek revenge in regard to British fans over the (2016 UEFA) Euro Cup is another attempt to escalate tensions used by British media after their country lost the bid to Russia to host the 2018 World Cup," Vladimir Markin, the head of the Russian Football Union’s (RFU) Committee on security and interaction with football fans, said in an interview with TASS.

"This is another attempt to discredit the upcoming World Cup in Russia and to undermine Russia’s image on the whole," Markin said. "I have not watched this film yet, but we are all already well-acquainted with the products of BBC, which in recent years seek to ‘entertain’ their viewers."

"We invite football fans from all over the world to visit our country during the World Cup and nothing of what British media reports warn about would happen in our country," Markin stated. "Everyone will see an outstandingly organized championship, including in terms of security provision."

Announcing the upcoming film on Thursday night, titled "Russia’s Hooligan Army", The Guardian wrote in particular that: "Clashes between Russia and England supporters, centred around the countries’ group-stage meeting in Marseille, blighted Euro 2016 last summer, leading to fears among senior British government officials that the violence unleashed by Russian hooligans was sanctioned by the Kremlin."

"The programme also shows groups of young men engaging in prearranged brawls against rival firms and preparing physically in order to be ready for next year’s tournament," The Guardian added.

Numerous clashes were reported between football fans at the major European football tournament held in France between June 10 and July 10, 2016. The most notorious altercations erupted between Russian and English fans ahead of the June 11th match. Brawls began on June 9 in Marseille, peaking on the day of the match - June 12.

Law enforcement authorities resorted to tear gas, smoke pellets and water cannons to disperse the brawlers. According to reports, more than 30 people had been injured in violent altercations, with four people sent to hospitals after sustaining severe injuries.

On June 14, French policemen 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.

Russia is currently in full-swing preparations for the global football tournaments after the country clinched the bid, following the final vote at the FIFA Executive Committee in December 2010. The victory came following a tight race against the bids from England, Portugal and Spain, in addition to a joint bid on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands.

The country selected 11 host cities to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.

The matches of the 2018 World Cup will be held between June 14 and July 15 at 12 stadiums located in the 11 above-mentioned cities across Russia. Two of the stadiums are located in the Russian capital of Moscow. 

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