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Russian Lawmaker Aims to Turn Hooliganism Into Sport

  • VOA News

FILE - Russian supporters attack an England fan at the end of the Euro 2016 Group B soccer match between England and Russia, at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille, France, June 11, 2016.

If there are hooligans planning to crash the 2018 World Cup football (soccer) finals in Russia, a Russian lawmaker thinks he has a solution.

Parliament member Igor Lebedev has even drawn up rules for what he calls “draka” – the Russian word for “fight.” There would be 20 unarmed fighters on each side taking on one another in a stadium at a scheduled hour. He said these fights between different fan groups could attract thousands of spectators.

"If visiting fans, for example, begin picking fights they receive an answer -- your challenge is accepted. Let's meet at the stadium at the set time. You can acquaint yourselves with the rules on our site," Lebedev wrote on his party's website. Russia would be a pioneer in a new sport, he said.

Last year, organized groups of Russian football fans, many with martial arts training, fought English fans on the streets of Marseille during the European Championship.

Some fan groups in Russia already hold illicit fights along similar lines of what Lebedev is proposing, typically pre-arranged mass brawls in rural locations, away from police. A Russian Premier League game on Saturday between CSKA Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg was marred by clashes between groups of rival fans who fought one another and tried to break through a security fence.

Lebedev, who represents the opposition Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, is also on the board of the Russian Football Union.

His comments come only 15 months from the kickoff of football's 2018 World Cup which will be hosted by Russia with 12 venues in 11 cities.

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