FIFA should threaten Russia over World Cup hosting: Collins


London (AFP) – FIFA should warn Russia they could be stripped as hosts of the 2018 World Cup if they don’t take measures to root out their hooligan element, British lawmaker Damian Collins told AFP on Friday.

Collins said it would be unacceptable for Russia to host a World Cup if the government cannot give assurances over the safety of foreign football supporters.

Russian hooligans — who had come prepared for trouble — were at the heart of ugly scenes in Marseille last weekend that earned them a suspended disqualification from Euro 2016.

“I think they (Russia) should realise it matters and I think FIFA have a duty of care to football fans and football family to make sure that the hosts provide a safe World Cup,” Collins told AFP.

“If they can’t do that then you have to question why the World Cup is going ahead there.

“I think this is a challenge that we want people to meet as in FIFA and Russia and that the Russians have a plan and are willing to address it.

“It should be being talked about and a recognition that we have a concern about the fans safety.

“Any fan from another country who has been attacked by Russian fans would be concerned about going there.”

— ‘Speak up’ —

Collins, who is a prominent member of the Committee of Culture, Media and Sport and been a very public critic of FIFA urging more transparency through the ‘FIFA Now’ pressure group, said it was the world football governing body’s obligation to speak out about fan safety.

“I think FIFA should speak up about this,” he said. “That if there is a concern raised by authorities in France, which there has been, that gangs of Russian supporters are aggressively targeting other fans looking for a fight and are armed how will they behave in Russia.

“You can’t enforce travel bans as they are not travelling to a foreign country and are in their own country.

“If fans from other countries are going to be targeted and not going to be safe or welcome that would not be at all acceptable for a World Cup.

“So FIFA has to say to the Russians ‘what are you going to do between now and 2018 about targeting, identifying and rooting out the troublemakers and thereby protecting the fans?'”

Collins said he didn’t hold out much hope that the Russian authorities would listen to any advice given the reaction so far including President Vladimir Putin’s incredulous aside on Friday how he couldn’t believe just 200 Russians had beaten up thousands of English fans in Marseille.  

“The Russians don’t accept they were protagonists for any of this trouble at all,” said 42-year-old Collins.

“Their response to the UEFA statement was us Russians shouldn’t rise to provocation not that Russian fans may have been in the wrong.

“This is not preaching as we in England recognise when England fans behave badly and we make sure they face justice and can’t disturb matches in the future.”

Collins, who has been a Conservative lawmaker since 2010, said Russia seemed to regard themselves as the wronged and not the wrongdoer.   

“The Russian authorities behave as if they are not responsible and the country is a victim of other people,” said Collins.

“What was disappointing with the football violence was to have a member of the Russian FA executive condoning it.

“In doping you have sports minister Vitaly Mutko saying they are a victim of doping and WADA Independent Commission says no it is known at the highest levels of government.

“We have to ask ourselves to what extent does Russia share the same values of other countries in the integrity of sport.”

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One Response

  1. VicBklyn June 17, 2016

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