By Samindra Kunti
June 7 – Confederations Cup host Russia has boosted security ahead of the tournament’s kick-off on June 17. Russian president Vladimir Putin has approved legislation to curb violence and hooliganism at football games after violent clashes between Russian and English fans in Marseille at Euro 2016.
“Citizens who have committed gross legal violations during sporting events, demonstrated racism, set off fireworks, broken furniture, tried to start fights, are under our unwinking, constant stare,” said deputy head of the interior ministry department Anton Gusev. “This also pertains to foreign soccer hooligans.”
The Russian ministry of the interior has blacklisted 191 fans, including 54 spectators involved in a pitch invasion at the Russia Cup final in Sochi, for the tournament. The authorities have implemented a ticketing system, which requires ticket holders to apply for a personalised fan-ID to ensure that fans are screened and hooligans kept away.
In April a terror attack in the St Petersburg metro killed 16 people and concerns remain that a similar attack could hit a host city during the Confederations Cup, but Russia’s Federal Security Service the FSB has tried to assuage concerns stating that terrorism did not pose a threat to Confederations Cup participants and spectators.
Last month Putin also signed a decree restricting public gatherings and the use of air space and waterways during the tournament. All rallies and protests that are not related to football will require approval by the local authorities. The political opposition has pointed out Putin’s decree is aimed at curbing their voice.
Ticket sales slow
The tournament will put Russia under the spotlight, but amid all the security concerns, ticketing is another headache for local organisers with sales for the event remaining low.
With ten days to go until the opening game, so far not a single game, including Russia’s three group stage matches and the final, has been sold out.
On Wednesday FIFA released additional tickets for some matches, including 1,000 tickets in all categories for the Russia-Portugal fixture and 400 tickets in category 4 for Portugal vs Mexico, Germany vs Chile, Mexico vs Russia and the match for the third place respectively. FIFA and the LOC are hoping that Russians, who tend to buy tickets late, will snap up tickets last minute.
Russia will welcome defending world champions Germany and other continental champions, including Portugal and Chile, to the two-week tournament in four venues, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi. Russia’s national team is ranked just 63rd in the FIFA ranking and will be looking to show their competitiveness ahead of next year’s World Cup.
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