MOSCOW, October 6. /TASS, Ilya Andreyev/. English and German football fans would have no problems in Russia during the 2018 FIFA World Cup and they should rather listen to opinions of tourists, who have already been to Russia, instead of believing in Western propaganda, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Friday.
National teams of England and Germany secured their spots in the 2018 World Cup following their qualifying matches on Thursday, which saw them taking top places in their qualifying Groups F and C respectively.
"We sincerely congratulate them," Mutko, who is also the president of the Russian Football Union (RFU), said in an interview with TASS. "There were no doubts that reigning World Champions Germany would qualify for the World Cup, and England also reached steadily the set target."
"These two national teams are the attire to any tournament and the World Cup would have been pale without them," Mutko said. "We will do everything to make them feel comfortable in Russia and the German national team already experienced the Russian hospitality when it played here at the (2017 FIFA) Confederations Cup."
Asked to give advice to Team England’s fans, who express worries coming to Russia, Mutko said "They should listen to those who have already been to Russia, for instance at the (UEFA) Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea (in 2008)."
British media repeatedly came up with reports about the cruelty of Russian football fans and how dangerous it would be to travel to Russia next year for the 2018 FIFA World Cup matches.
For instance, BBC aired in March a documentary about Russian fans who, as it claimed, look forward to taking vengeance on English fans during the 2018 World Cup for the brutal clashes that occurred at the UEFA Euro Cup in Marseille in June 2016.
Also in March, the British tabloid Daily Mirror illustrated an article brimming with allegations about threats to English fans from their Russian counterparts that may be in store at the 2018 World Football Cup finals with pictures taken during Shrovetide outdoor festivities in Moscow’s Izmailovo Park on February 25, 2017. The pictures showing phony fist fights were accompanied by captions describing the cruelty of Russia’s extremist football fans.
"One should take a cue from people instead of believing in propaganda and ongoing attempts to discredit Russia," Deputy Prime Minister Mutko said. "Millions of people come to Russia as tourists annually and one should first of all listen to them. The popularity of our country grows with each year, because it is safe and comfortable here and there are a lot of places to see."
"We are waiting to welcome British and German football fans," he said. "They will have no problems whatsoever."
"Ticket holders will also have the privilege of the visa-free entrance (to Russia)," according to Mutko. "During the Champions League final in Moscow (in 2008), football fans had to obtain entry visas paying for them, but it will be nothing of the kind this time. The fan-ID may be obtained both by means of e-mail or postal services."
As part of the preparations for the prestigious FIFA tournaments in 2017 and 2018, the Russian government decided to introduce the so-called fan-IDs.
The fan-ID plays an important role in the provision of security during the major football tournaments in Russia as they are granting admittance to the stadiums and also serve as visas for foreign visitors to enter the country.
A holder of the fan-ID is allowed to enter the country without having a Russian visa and stay for the duration of the global football tournaments as well as for the period of ten days before and after both the 2017 Confederations Cup and the 2018 World Cup.
Fan-IDs are obligatory in addition for purchased tickets for attending matches of both FIFA tournaments in Russia and are available free of charge at designated areas located in all hosting cities across Russia as well as via e-mails and postal services.
After successfully hosting the FIFA Confederations Cup this summer, Russia is now in full-swing preparations to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
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 mentioned above cities across Russia. Two of the stadiums are located in the Russian capital.