The Russian State Duma hopes new tougher legislation to be introduced in September will finally make the country’s football stadiums a safer place.
Tackling football hooliganism in Russia is often discussed. However, every season, the same old problems occur, with rival supporters clashing both inside and outside stadiums across the country.
Part of the problem is that there is no effective legislation in place to tackle the problem, and this is something the authorities are looking to change.
“We are looking to bring in legislation to try and combat football hooliganism,” Yury Demidov, head of the Anti-Hooliganism Unit in the police, told RT. “Unfortunately there are no universal laws in place at the moment to deal with this problem. In the autumn, the State Duma will discuss this problem. We will also look to try and outlaw things like flares in stadiums as this has a negative impact on the game.”
Flares are all too common at stadiums around the country. Despite heavy fines from UEFA, pyrotechnics are still let off at Champions League and Europa League matches.
The clubs are the ones who have to foot the bill, while those who are guilty of bringing flares into grounds often get away with a fine of just a few Euros – that's if they are even caught.
“We will be looking to cooperate with clubs and fans to try and make stadiums safer places,” Demidov stressed. “And the new legislation will be much tougher on those who want to break the law. We are looking at how the authorities in England and Germany have managed to deal with hooliganism. They have dealt with the problem very well, and we'll be looking to try and bring in similar laws in Russia to overcome this problem.”
Supporters’ groups have often campaigned for stewards to take the place of the police in football stadiums, as is the case across much of Europe.
This may have some effect in reducing the problem however, the only way football hooliganism can really be tackled is if the trouble makers are held accountable for their actions.
“The laws and fines football hooligans face have to be tougher,” Aleksandr Meytin, head of Russian Premier League's security department, explained. "If they are shown on TV or displayed in newspapers for what they have done – then I think they will think twice about doing it again. If they face a fine of 10 Euros – that's nothing and they'll keep on causing trouble. The police and the clubs need to work together to try and tackle this problem.”
It's high time that a proper stance against the problem of hooliganism is taken. However, it seems as though the authorities have finally accepted there is a problem.
But it is crucial that the new legislation being discussed is implemented and comes down hard on those intent on causing trouble.