LONDON: Russian hooligans have warned of a “festival of violence” at next year’s World Cup, in a BBC documentary aired on Thursday in which the fans celebrate street fights at Euro 2016.
Hours after FIFA president Gianni Infantino said he was not concerned about violence at the tournament, the BBC’s “Russia’s Hooligan Army” showed fans predicting clashes between supporters.
“For some it will be a festival of football, for others it will be a festival of violence,” one such hooligan told the BBC, interviewed close to the Rostov stadium which will host World Cup matches.
“Everyone from the fans’ movement is looking forward to the World Cup taking place in Russia. There is no need to travel to have fun. Our opponents are naturally the English because they are the forefathers of hooliganism,” he said.
The British broadcaster also spoke to members of the “Orel Butchers”, a group of hardcore supporters of Lokomotiv Moscow who were accused of violence during Euro 2016 in France.
A leader of the group predicted a crackdown by Russian authorities, telling the BBC “they will just take down all leaders, all people who are capable of organising anything and just lock them down.”
Despite the prospect of tighter rules against hooliganism, the Orel Butchers member said it was “100 percent guaranteed” that some fans in Russia will try to organise against England supporters.
Several Russians were expelled from France last year after street battles broke out with England fans in Marseille.
The violence was celebrated by Russian hooligans in the documentary, with one boasting: “Our guys are more dangerous than special forces.”
Speaking in Qatar on Thursday, Infantino said he had faith in Russia’s abilities to host the World Cup.
“I am not concerned about trouble and violence in 2018,” Infantino told journalists on the sidelines of a FIFA executive summit meeting in Qatar.
He added that Russia was a “welcoming country, which wants to celebrate football”.