Russia’s ‘fan law’ against hooligans demands cultural change

Supporters of FC Zenit St. Petersburg fire flares during the Russian Football League Championship match between FC Zenit St. Petersburg and FC Ural Sverdlovsk Oblast at the Petrovsky stadium on December 6, 2013
Supporters of FC Zenit St. Petersburg fire flares during the Russian Football League Championship match between FC Zenit St. Petersburg and FC Ural Sverdlovsk Oblast at the Petrovsky stadium on December 6, 2013.
Credit: Getty Images

Events of Oct. 31, 2013 proved that Russia had no choice but to address its problem with hooligans in sport. A cup match between Spartak Moscow and Shinnik Yaroslavl had to be stopped due to a racially-charged battle between the supporters, during which the arena was vandalized, fires were lit and Nazi flags flew in the crowd.

Seventy-eight arrests were made that day, from over 14,000 at sporting events over the past three years according to official data. That’s too much for the hosts of the 2018 World Cup, and its deputy CEO Alexander Djordjadze demanded laws to “change the fan culture completely.”

On Jan. 19, the “Fan Law” came into effect. It allows for severe punishment of offenders; fines of over $300 (over half the average monthly wage), three-year bans, and sentences to community work. Repeat offenders can expect prison sentences and much larger fines. Clubs are expected to film and identify troublemakers.

But while there has been widespread relief that action has been taken, the rules have confused supporters.

“It’s unclear how the offenses will be differentiated and on what basis the court will address decisions concerning the offenders,” Alexander Shprygin, president of the Russian Soccer Fan Association (VOB), told Metro.

The changes were produced without consulting supporter groups, which have been regarded with open hostility. VOB leaders and headquarters have been searched and investigated in the past year. This has fueled wider concerns around growing securitization in sport, with a prominent example the severe restrictions around Sochi’s Winter Olympics, which have distressed much of the local community.

A further issue is whether the changes will have the desired impact.

“Our research shows that punishment of this type of hooliganism, involving racism and hate crimes, is rarely effective without educational measures,” said Piara Powar, executive director of Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE). “It can also cause a backlash.”

A World Cup or Olympic Games has always demanded that sporting values be a consideration along with security.

“Governments need to ensure that any legislation for sporting events makes an attempt to follow the Olympic Charter (on the spirit of sport),” says sports lawyer Gregory Ioannidis.

With the 2022 World Cup to be held in Qatar – renowned for its authoritarian government – a worrying precedent could be set.

Russia’s new system is unproven, and with little time before the big events, it represents an experiment. Visiting sports fans will play the guinea pigs.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…

International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…