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Russia’s FC Spartak fans mock BBC documentary with ‘Blah Blah Channel’ banner

March 19, 2017, 2:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The film was widely condemned in Russia for attempts to depict Russian sports community in a negative light

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© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, March 19. /TASS/. A huge banner held aloft by fans of Russia’s Spartak Moscow football club during a game on Saturday labeled BBC the ‘Blah Blah Channel’ for its documentary on hooliganism in Russia, a TASS correspondent reported.

During the Russian Football Premier League derby match with Lokomotiv Moscow, Spartak fans unfurled two huge banners. The first one suggested that BBC stands for the "Blah Blah Channel" and reflected the way that Russian football fans were portrayed in the channel’s "Russia’s Hooligan Army" documentary: two men in balaclava masks, one of them holding a machete knife.

The other one reads "#WelcomeToRussia2018 - Supporters of a big country" written in Russian, with drawings suggesting how Russian football devotees really look like.

Commenting on the initiative, Russia’s deputy prime minister and the head of the Russian Football Union, Vitaly Mutko, said the fans demonstrated their ability to respond to provocations with humor.

"The guys responded to this entire situation in a Russian style, with humor. It was a creative move. Well done - that’s all I can say," said the official, who earlier described the BBC feature as ungrounded and called it a "fearmongering fable."

The UK-based BBC television channel released a documentary in mid-February in which Russian hooligans were warning British football fans about a ‘festival of violence’ in response to the notorious clashes in the French Riviera city of Marseille last year during the 2016 UEFA Euro Cup games.

The film was widely condemned in Russia for attempts to depict Russian sports community in a negative light.

Russia is currently in full-swing preparations for the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup to be held between June 14 and July 15 at 12 stadiums in 11 host cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.

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