Russia fan leader barred from Confederations Cup

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russian fan leader Alexander Shprygin has been barred from the Confederations Cup before the opening match in Saint Petersburg on Saturday which saw the hosts beat New Zealand 2-0.

The issue of hooliganism is a major concern for organisers after ugly clashes between Russian and English fans at the European Championship in Marseille last summer.

Shprygin, who was twice deported from France last year during Euro 2016, said he had been notified by organisers that his fan-ID, needed to attend matches, had been cancelled.

“Two hours before the match I received an email which said that my Fan ID had been cancelled, which means I was barred from entering the stadium,” Shprygin told AFP.

“I had travelled almost 500km by car to watch the match, I paid 8,000 rubles (123 euros) for a ticket which I couldn’t use.”

Alexander Shprygin holds a Russian flag while speaking to the media. - AP
Alexander Shprygin holds a Russian flag while speaking to the media. – AP

Shprygin, who was revealed to have far-right affiliations, said he had had no prior warning and threatened legal action.

“I think that my rights have been violated,” Shprygin said.

Shprygin was among a group of Russian fans who were expelled from France after clashes during Russia’s Euro 2016 match against England. He re-entered France later in the tournament but was again expelled.

Russia have implemented the special Fan ID, which allows visiting fans to enter the country without a visa and supporters to move freely between host cities for the duration of the tournament.

But this ID also serves as an additional security measure as fans cannot enter the stadium without it even if they have a ticket for the match.

The eight-team Confederations Cup which runs until July 2 in St Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan and Sochi is being seen as a test for Russia ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Some 191 fans have been put on a blacklist banning them from games and legislation has been introduced to toughen up punishments and deport foreign hooligans.