Ukrainian football fans let off flares during their team’s World Cup qualifying match against San Marino in Lviv. Sept. 6, 2013© REUTERS/ GLEB GARANICH
ODESSA, Ukraine, September 24 (RIA Novosti/R-Sport) – Russia’s top police official expressed concern Tuesday about the ability of “radical extremist” groups to infiltrate football fan organizations, after alleged demonstrations of neo-Nazism and racism at a World Cup qualifier in Ukraine sparked an investigation by the sport’s international governing body.
“Today, attempts by radical extremist structures to infiltrate the healthy fan environment and to use its opportunities for their unlawful interests are causing serious concern,” Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev said at a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Vitaly Zakharchenko.
Earlier this month, Ukraine beat San Marino 9-0 at home, a match that has since prompted a FIFA investigation into reports of racist and pro-Nazi banners and outbursts from the Ukrainian fans.
Public displays of racism among football fans have long been a problem in Western Europe and can often be encountered at games in Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet republics as well. The issue was thrust into the spotlight last year when a major fan group of Russia’s Zenit St. Petersburg published a manifesto demanding the team field no black or gay players.
While Kolokoltsev’s comments seemed related to Ukraine’s most recent incident, they did not focus explicitly on racism – a thorny but under-addressed problem in Russia – but on extremism.
“It is necessary to remember that in recent years the activities of various international terrorist organizations have intensified,” he said, adding that police should fight the problem with “comprehensive” and “preventative” measures.
Add to blog
You may place this material on your blog by copying the link.
Image Galleries: Siberian Air Base Gets New Su-30SM Fighter Jets
Infographics: First Russian Smartphone
New ties between Russia and Japan would mark not only a breakthrough in their relations but also a significant shift in Northeast Asia’s political dynamic. Both are secondary players in a region overshadowed by an increasingly assertive China, which has not hesitated to push against the boundaries of its neighbors.