Foreign fans shouldn’t be worried about safety during World Cup

Although diplomatic tensions are getting a lot of attention on Russian TV and ordinary Russians may have a negative attitude to some foreign politicians, this won't spoil the upcoming football tournament. As sport and politics are separated, foreign fans will be protected well and accepted with hospitality.

There's no way foreign fans will face violence, racism, hooliganism and so on during the World Cup in Russia, says The Guardian citing Russian sports columnist Igor Rabiner. The latest survey showed that only 4% of Russian football fans believe that their team could win the World Cup, so most Russians are going just to celebrate an event of global significance, show foreigners their cities and entertain them.

Even the recent diplomatic rows with the United Kingdom, which got a lot of attention on Russian TV, haven't affected the attitude of Russians to English football or ordinary English citizens. Russian Match TV broadcasts matches of the English Premier League for free, and English games often have much higher TV ratings than Russian ones. Former football superstars are better known to many Russians than foreign and even local politicians. After all, politicians don't play football, so if the British government does boycott the World Cup, their absence won't be noticed, and it won't influence the Russian response to the England team, believes Rabiner.

Fans' passport system allows restricting access to stadiums for potentially violent fans. Photo: Piotr Drabik

The last year's FIFA Confederations Cup, which took place without serious incidents on or off the pitch, showed Russia can organise such major sporting events perfectly. 7,000 Chilean fans who came to see that tournament were accepted with absolute hospitality, says the columnist. The fans' passport system, which was successfully adopted at the Confederations Cup, allows restricting access to the stadiums for potentially violent fans. Events like the clash between English and Russian fans in Marseille during Euro 2016, when dozens of people were injured, won't be repeated inside the country, so civilised fans shouldn't be worried about safety. Nonetheless, it is still undesirable to provoke locals, warns Rabiner.

He also gives foreign fans a piece of advice concerning transportation from airport. During the Confederations Cup, a Chilean fan was cheated by an airport taxi driver. The visitor, who didn't know the ruble rate, had to pay 50,000 rubles (about £600) for a rather short drive from Domodedovo airport to Moscow city centre. Later, the driver was caught by the police, repaid the victim and barely escaped prison. Thus, the journalist doesn't recommend using airport taxis adding that services like Uber are much safer for your pocket.

By Anna Litvina

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