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Russia's 'Gentlefan' baton passed on to Krasnodar ahead of Cote d’Ivoire friendly

March 24, 21:34 UTC+3 KRASNODAR

Krasnodar authorities decided to give free-of-charge tickets for the match to all African students studying at regional higher education establishments

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Alexei Smertin

Alexei Smertin

© Anton Rasskazov

KRASNODAR, March 24. /TASS/. The Russian Football Union (RFU) and local football fans in the country’s southern city of Krasnodar carried on with the recent initiative on Russia’s football hospitality dubbed as ‘Gentlefan’ giving a warm reception to African students ahead of the Russia- Cote d’Ivoire friendly match.

The friendly match between Russia and Cote d’Ivoire was held on Friday night at the newly opened stadium in the southern city of Krasnodar and ended 0-2 in favor of guests Cote d’Ivoire.

The team from Cote d’Ivoire had no supporting fans visiting Russia’s Krasnodar on Friday night and the local authorities decided to give free-of-charge tickets to all African students studying at regional higher education establishments for the match.

A total of 150 students from all over Africa currently in Krasnodar attended the match and besides having received warm blankets and Gentlefan memorabilia they were all treated to tea by famous Russian footballers as a sign that Russian football fans welcome everyone ahead of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

"I come from the city of Benin and have never been to this stadium," one of the invited African students told TASS. "To be honest, I am amazed with this facility. It is more than pleasant who we were met and we were even happier when we figured out who served the tea for us."

One of the hosts treating to tea African guests was Alexei Smertin, a famous Russian ex-footballer playing for the national team and the RFU’s current head on the fight against racism manifestations in football.

"It all started in Rostov-on-Don with their warm reception and this good tradition was caught up by football fans in Krasnodar," said Smertin, who along with other volunteers were handing out to guests orange caps reading ‘Gentlefan’ on them.

Fans of the Manchester United Football Club give exclusively positive comments on the trip to Russia for the game against Rostov FC(1:1) two weeks ago.

On the game day, a round-the-clock English center for fans’ support worked in Rostov-on-Don. In case of any problem or conflict, a fan regardless of citizenship could apply for a legal consultation.

Fears of the English fans were clear ahead of the match in Russia’s Rostov-on-Don, as they had been under impression from the scenes in Marseilles - since then the UK media would not leave the topic of Russian football hooligans.

Quite "timely" was also the much spoken about film by BBC about Russian fans, which, among other stories, gave detailed information about a group which supported exactly the Rostov team.

Even the British media had to change its sentimental approach after the warm reception in Rostov-on-Don. The welcoming atmosphere in the city and the Gentlefan action changed the titles from "violation festival" type to "charm attack."

National teams around the globe are currently in the qualifying stage battling for a place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, while Russia as the host nation has been already guaranteed a berth in the world’s main quadrennial football event.

Therefore, the Russian national team is playing friendly football matches in the run-up to the much anticipated 2018 FIFA World Cup.

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