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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

Thursday, Sept. 18


Get your nerd on at Boomfest, St. Petersburg’s answer to the United States’ popular ComicCon. Starting today, this international festival of comics will take over venues throughout the city center and includes exhibitions of comics and illustrations, film screenings, competitions and the chance to meet the genre’s authors, artists and experts.



Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBA’s newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is “Handmade in Germany,” an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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