MOSCOW, April 11. /TASS/. Football fans of England’s Arsenal FC will be presented with Russia’s traditional ear-flapped hats or ‘shapka-ushanka’ ahead of the quarterfinals second-leg match of the UEFA Europa League against CSKA Moscow FC in the Russian capital on Thursday night, the Russian Football Union (RFU) announced on Wednesday.
. @FCBayernUS @esmuellert_ It will be warmer in "Ushanka's" pic.twitter.com/26nyUVjg6Q— Football Club Rostov (@rostovfc) 21 November 2016
About 100 fans of Arsenal FC are expected to come to Moscow for the match and the gifts will be handed out to them as part of the action called "Gentlefan. Russian warm welcome."
The so-called ‘Gentlefan’ action was held for the first time in February 2017 prior to a UEFA match in Russia’s Rostov-on-Don and England’s Manchester United. Fans of the football club from England were presented with warm blankets before the match to protect them from the cold.
The action was then carried out in the city of Krasnodar the following month during the Russian national football team’s friendly match against Cote d’Ivoire. About 200 students from Africa, studying in Russia’s south, were invited to attend the match for free of charge and were greeted before the game by former Russian football star Alexei Smertin, who drank tea with them from Russia’s traditional ‘samovar.’
In March 2017, girls dressed as angels greeted football fans of the Belgian national team, who arrived in Russia’s Sochi for the friendly match with the Russian national team. The Angels presented Belgian football fans with small pillows in the shape of a cloud reading "Gentlefan. Russian warm reception."
The Gentlefan action was also held in June 2017 before the friendly match between Russia and Chile as well as during the UEFA Champions League’s matches Spartak-Liverpool and CSKA-Manchester United in September.
CSKA is the only football club from Russia to reach the quarterfinals stage of the current UEFA Europa League tournament. The Russian football club played the first leg match at the Emirates Stadium in London on April 5 losing 1-4 to Arsenal FC.
The return match between CSKA and Arsenal at the VEB-Arena in Moscow kicks off on Thursday at 10:05 p.m. local time (19:05 GMT).