MOSCOW, April 5. /TASS/. Politics must be left aside and people should be talking only about football after tonight’s quarterfinal match of the UEFA Europa League between Russia’s CSKA Moscow FC and Arsenal FC in London, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Thursday.
The first leg of the quarterfinals between CSKA and Arsenal kicks off on Thursday night at the Emirates Stadium in London. About 500 Russian CSKA football fans are expected to attend the match, which begins at 19:05 GMT (10:05 p.m. Moscow time).
"On the whole, I hope that it will solely be all about football and some 500 of our nationals went there (to London)," Mutko told journalists. "Undoubtedly, I hope that everything will go well, anyhow we will really be captivated by the game and will be discussing the match and nothing else."
"The club (CSKA Moscow) issued certain instructions to everyone going there, so they are all aware of everything," the official stated.
Mutko also expressed his regret that the Russian and British law enforcement bodies are unable to cooperate right now on exchanging information.
"There are always special services, which interact, exchange lists and data that the both sides have," he said. "It all provides for multiple opportunities to prevent provocations and mass disturbances. We do not have this privilege with the Great Britain at the present time."
CSKA Moscow FC is the only football club from Russia to reach the quarterfinals stage of the current UEFA Europa League tournament. The return match with Arsenal is scheduled to be played in the Russian capital on April 12.
Andrei Zarubyan, commercial director for CSKA Moscow FC, told TASS earlier in the week that between 100 and 150 Arsenal FC fans were expected to come from England for the second-leg match against CSKA in Moscow.
Relations between Moscow and London have soured after former Russian military intelligence officer-turned-British spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal were poisoned early last month in the United Kingdom.
London rushed to accuse Russia of being involved in the incident, while Moscow flatly rejected all of the British allegations.
Subsequently, the United Kingdom expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow. In response, Moscow expelled an equal number of UK diplomats. In addition, Britain’s consulate in St. Petersburg was ordered to be closed and the British Council’s operations in Russia were terminated.
Later on, the Russian foreign ministry demanded the overall number of the British diplomatic personnel at the embassy in Moscow and consulates general across Russia be cut down to size to equal the number of Russian diplomats and technical staff working in the United Kingdom.