Watching a football match in Russia often carries echoes of the grim era of hooliganism in 1980s Britain.There are crumbling stadiums, sparse crowds, clashes between hardcore fans and police, and despite a recent ban, often a pervasive smell of cigarette smoke.Also, as shown Friday in a report by an anti-discrimination groupers, pervasive racism is directed against players and fans from ethnic minorities.Of the 12 glittering new and refurbished arenas which will host the 2018 World Cup, many will replace dilapidated Soviet-era bowls which often lack basic facilities such as sufficient toilets, with little effort made to accommodate female fans and families.That helps to ensure that crowd numbers are among the lowest in major European leagues – attendances of less than 2,000 are not unknown for games at the lower end of the Russian Premier League.In Russia’s half-empty stadiums, groups of hardcore fans set an often intolerant tone inspired by British and Italian gangs notorious for brawling with police.Many of Russia’s hardcore fan groups ”were initially inspired by the English hooligan scene of the 1980s,” Moscow-based author Marc Bennetts, who has written extensively on Russian football, told The Associated Press in e-mailed comments.”But over time, the influence of the far more… Read full this story
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