Monday, March 26, 2018

Aggro and Security: 2018 FIFA TM World Cup




It seems to go with the turf, football and supporter violence. Since the beginning of the game where ever partisan supporters gather violence quickly follows. No surprise then to see unruly behaviour spill out into the streets and become the focus for anarchists and anti-social types. National fervor rules in the mob mentality and racist taunts relate to long standing hatred and distrust. England fans have gained a reputation for almost half a century. Brawling supporters caused mayhem at most European World Cups and Euro Championships.



With full anticipation of disruptive behaviour authorities across Europe have united to try to prevent mayhem in the streets of Russia. Clearly this has not been 100% successful according to reports and hooligans still slip through but, at least authorities believe the known ‘hard core’ are not directly involved. UK authorities have in the past banned known offenders from attending the World Cup. These include known organizers and risk supporters with targeted troublemakers required to surrender their passports. These are however not life bans and by June 2018 many of the hardcore will have travel restrictions lifted. Sadly, the number increases each tournament as unruly behaviour continues to increase. Unlike the UK, most other countries have no legal powers to prevent potentially violent fans from traveling, instead they engage undercover officers (spotters) to mingle with the crowds.



During the World Cups inter-gang rivalry and disputes are temporarily forgotten as ruffians with mutual animosity to rival fans, form alliances. Whoever wins the tournament on the field is immaterial as rebel rousers battle for the honours in the Hooligan's World Cup. Crime, politics and unemployment are thought to underpin much of the social unrest fueled by bravado fed by alcohol and illicit drugs.



Ongoing rivalries between opposing fans poses a substantial risk of violence during FIFA World Cup TM 2018. Local security forces will monitor threat groups and deny entry to suspects. However, the risk of clashes between violent supporters remains present. Russian ultra-nationalists and football supporters may specifically target foreign supporters or tourists. This could lead to verbal abuse or physical altercation. However, sporting venues, fan zones and commercial and touristic areas will be highly secured. Local authorities have a strong interest such events do not occur in order not to tarnish the overall success of the event.



Okolofutbola, (around football) is the term used to describe hooligan elements in Russia. The Russian Ultras are one of the major firms but there are others, including groups of all-girl hooligans. Popularity for soccer casual-like behaviours in Russia appeared in the 1990s and was modelled on the English casuals including their clothes, terminology, and passion for blackout drinking. So, committed to the new wave casual consultants form English firms such as the Chelsea Head Hunters went to Russia to help set up their firms. Now a new wave of hooligan terrorises the streets. Disinterested in football, they are obsessed with physical fitness, elite martial arts training and sobriety. Trained in paramilitary fashion many appear for battle wearing skull-masks and mixed-martial-arts fighting gloves. Over the years authorities have systematically policed football violence at club level driving the hooligans underground. Now rival groups meet in remote woods and in fight club style, battle it out under the direction of a referee. This behaviour is akin to ‘stenka na stenku,’ an old peasant game where two villages would square off during festivals.



The Russian Authorities are determined to crack down and make the FIFA 2018 World Cup TM go smoothly. The Interior Ministry’s Department E, responsible for monitoring terrorist and organized crime groups, now also monitors hooligans, with many fans believing their communications are under surveillance. Even the woodland fights have become infrequent, given the increased risk of arrest recently. According to FIFA, Russia’s high security standards have been adapted to meet the specific needs of the World Cup. Strict security procedures are in place to control hooliganism.

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