Officials in Moscow have blacklisted over 450 people from attending games at this summer’s World Cup as the authorities continue to take steps to ensure fan safety in Russia.
The head of the Russian capital’s security and anti-corruption department said on Thursday that 467 people, including 157 residents of the city, had been banned from receiving the FAN ID documents that all supporters will need to attend games at the World Cup.
"We presume that no fan that has been blacklisted will be able to attend the matches,” Vladimir Chernikov said on Thursday.
“We compiled a clear-cut list of 467 people, including 157 Moscow residents – all of them failed to receive their fan ID, a document that all fans must have to get access to the matches.
“Several participating countries have provided their lists of hooligans, which helped us expand the list,” the official said, TASS reported.
Chernikov added that facial recognition technology would help security officials identify known hooligans, and said that officials were working with colleagues from foreign clubs, including from England.
"Sports should unite people, and not incite football-related violence. We realize there is a problem, but today, we are working quickly with fan club representatives that are in our country, like Manchester, Liverpool, Chelsea," Chernikov said.
It was recently reported that a Russian fan jailed in France over the clashes with England supporters at the European Championship in 2016 has been warned by police not to cause trouble at the World Cup.
Sergei Gorbachev, who was jailed for seven months in Marseille for his alleged role in the violence, says Russian police have spoken to people identified as potential troublemakers to warn them off engaging in violence this summer.
“The guys who are now in the fan world, they are feeling the effects of what the authorities are doing to ensure the World Cup is held without any trouble, including from the Russian fans,” the 35-year-old told Reuters.
Police are particularly keen to avoid trouble from England fans, according to an Interior Ministry official quoted by the news agency, who said there will be “a policeman every 20 meters” to prevent potential clashes.
Gorbachev, who is the head of the supporters’ group for Russian Premier League team Arsenal Tula, said he would shake England fans’ hands “if they behave in a civilized way.”
“I would want the same [respect] from them. I wouldn’t want to see the same attitude and behavior I encountered in Marseille.”
He added that if Three Lions fans do misbehave, they “should serve time here [under Russian laws]” – just as he served time in France.
Fans from a number of big English clubs have visited Russia in recent months, with matches passing off each time without any safety issues.
Most recently, Arsenal played CSKA Moscow in the Russian capital in the quarter-final of the UEFA Europa League.
Gunners fans were greeted at the stadium in Moscow and were presented with traditional Russian hats as part of the ‘Gentlefan’ initiative.
The World Cup kicks off in Russia on June 14, and 64 matches will be played at 12 stadiums in 11 host cities. Russian officials are expecting more than 1 million fans to visit the country during the tournament.