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Russian Football Violence Reinforces Concerns About 2018 World Cup

Published: May 16, 2014 (Issue # 1810)



  • Hooligans from Russian football fans clubs have a reputation for violence and racism that bodes poorly for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
    Photo: D. Garrison Golubock / MT

The Zenit Ultra fan accused of striking Moscow Dynamo defender Vladimir Granat has been identified as Alexander Nesterov, a 45-year-old St. Petersburg resident who denied that he hit the Moscow player.

Merely the latest in a long string of instances of fan-related violence in Russian football, the recent violence at the Zenit-Dynamo game reinforced uncertainties about how stadiums will manage security during the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup, which will be held in 11 cities across Russia.

The Zenit St. Petersburg soccer team has been given a two game stadium ban by the Russian Football Union after fans stormed the field during a game with rivals Dynamo Moscow, one of them attacking Granat and striking him in the back of the head. Granat remained in St. Petersburg for medical care.

Dynamo was leading the match 4-2 in the 87th minute of the game when hardcore Zenit Ultra fans from the club's cheering section stormed the field. In the wake of the attack, the Russian Football Union fined Zenit 1 million rubles ($28,800) and decreed that Zenit would play the first two games of next season in a closed stadium with no fans, adding that the cheering sections where the club's hardcore fans sit would be closed for an additional three games.

Despite promises to increase security, Zenit fans have a reputation for rowdiness, and this in not the first time that they have run amok. In 2012, another Zenit-Dynamo game was disrupted when a Zenit fan threw a flare onto the field, injuring Dynamo goalie Anton Shunin.

Earlier this season, Zenit Ultra fans created controversy for burning a Chechen flag during a game against Terek Grozny, the Chechen football team. Several fans were arrested for hooliganism, and Zenit was fined 300,000 rubles for the inappropriate actions of its fans, a sum which it later managed to recoup from the guilty parties.

However, despite the bad reputation of the Zenit Ultras, the team is by no means alone in having rowdy fans Russian football as a whole has been plagued by incidents of violence and racism involving football fans, a problem that the Russian Premier League and law enforcement have sought to combat with increased security and alcohol bans.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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