Spartak Moscow and Zenit Saint Petersburg fans are disgusted by the laws
Russian football fans are protesting that football stadiums are “not the jails” after announcing they would be avoiding games at their beloved clubs in opposition to controversial new fan ID requirements set to be introduced in the summer of 2022.
Politicians decided in December 2021 to pass the third and final reading of the bill to introduce the new system, which would cost around $10.5 million to implement, on June 1.
Fans have already staged protests, including mass early departures from matches compared to the plan, which includes measures to limit them to buying tickets through a portal system that will contain their data.
Russia’s Premier League side Spartak Moscow’s sprawling Fratria Group announced an immediate boycott of matches in response.
“We are united in our position. We refuse to accept the rules that are imposed on us: passports, IDs and the fan identification law,” Fratria said in a statement, suggesting that fans who attend league matches, domestic cup matches, European competitions and other matches where a mandatory identification system is applied will be considered traitors.
“Our boycott starts from now and will last until the complete repeal of the passed law.
“The boycott applies to all fan associations, organizations and teams that identify with Spartak, Moscow, Russia, CIS countries and the whole world.
“Not a single law, not a single document and not a single official can deprive a supporter of their sacred right: to be close to their club, to be part of their history, to consider the stadium and the area as their home, to express their emotions and his opinions.
“In our blood, our ideology was, is and will always remain the fundamental principle – the support of our team.
“At all times, despite the results, restrictions, pressure from law enforcement and other circumstances, we have remained close to Spartak.
“However, the current situation and the repressive innovations do not leave us the possibility to take any other decision than this – difficult, but balanced and the only right one in the current situation.”
Individuals could be denied a fan ID card or have their documents and permits frozen for public order offenses at matches in Russia and abroad.
Shortly before the bill was passed, an incident at CSKA Moscow saw more than 400 fans arrested by riot police after dozens set off flares.
Security personnel stopped a whole section of supporters from leaving in a bid to identify those responsible following the mysterious hacking of the stadium’s CCTV cameras, with fans reportedly being driven into waiting police vans hours after the final whistle.
Proponents of the bill, such as politician and three-time Olympic figure skating champion Irina Rodnina, have argued that it should be implemented in order to identify those acting illegally and ensure the safety of those inside. stadiums.
Critics of the legislation have included Ural LPR chairman Grigory Ivanov.
Ilya Gerkus, former president of Lokomotiv Moscow, reportedly called for boycotts “logic based on the dynamics of the situation” because he felt lawmakers hadn’t engaged with fans enough.
“That’s the right and almost the only acceptable reaction,” he told RIA. “Now we are waiting for the response from the sports authorities, their words and their deeds.
The Fratria pledged to continue to support Spartak by all means at their disposal beyond the participation in matches.
“The emotions of the sector, the crowded stadium and the tens of thousands of hearts beating in unison have always been the most important part of life for us”, they said.
“We are consciously giving up what was so dear to us in the name of one goal: to protect the rights of all who consider themselves fans.
“So our position is stated. Everyone who identifies with football has to make their choice.
“The system will not stop – having got rid of the fans, clearing the active sectors of the “objectionable”, its mechanism will ruthlessly start in a new direction.
“The law aimed at providing a ‘comfortable and safe environment for football’ will not only destroy the essence of fanaticism and its emotions, but will also cynically deal – without explanation and in violation of the presumption of innocence – with anyone who doesn’t fit within the rules it dictates, [including] ordinary fans, visitors from the “family sectors” and VIPs.
“We declare that whoever decides to ignore the declared position and remain at the stadium will no longer be able to look into the eyes of the thousands of comrades-in-arms with honor and dignity.
“Anyone, regardless of status and insignia, who has crossed the stadium line at the time of our boycott, will momentarily cease to be part of the great Spartak movement and leave our ranks forever. A stadium is not a prison. The Football for Fans.”
A fan on social media joked: “So to go to football, you need a ticket, a QR code, a Fan ID showing your location, a police clearance, a church blessing, a written undertaking not to leave and your wife’s permission.”
The protests could have a noticeable impact in the stands: Zenit’s Gazprom Arena has 68,000 seats to fill to capacity, while Spartak’s Otkritie Arena has room for 45,360 fans.
Fan ID systems were used in Russia during the 2017 Confederation Cup, 2018 World Cup and Euro 2020 matches that were held in the country.