Russia should 'follow English example' to beat fan violence

Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:47am EST
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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian authorities should follow Britain's former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's example in attempting to combat crowd violence, the vice-president of the domestic football union (RFU) said on Monday.

Nikita Simonyan, the former Soviet Union striker and coach, made his comments following another episode of fan violence in Russia last month, during the Russian Cup match between Spartak Moscow and Shinnik Yaroslavl.

"As you remember, English clubs were banned from European competitions for five years (in the 1980s)," Simonyan told a news conference.

"But the measures taken by Mrs Thatcher led to jail terms and stadium bans for soccer hooligans, and everything has calmed down in England."

English football was bedeviled by hooliganism in the 1970s and 80s. A riot at the FA Cup game between Luton Town and Millwall at Kenilworth Road in 1985 led to a controversial national debate on the issue led by Thatcher.

The then prime minister and Conservative Party leader backed an ultimately unsuccessful bid to make football supporters in England carry identity cards.

It was the Hillsborough tragedy of 1989, when 96 Liverpool fans died at the FA Cup semi-final between their team and Nottingham Forest - that had the most profound effect on how soccer is watched in England.

The independent inquiry into the disaster culminated in the Taylor report, a document sent to Thatcher's government in January 1990 that concluded that the "main reason for the disaster was the failure of police control".

It recommended several measures designed to improve fan safety at sporting events, the most dramatic of which was the introduction of all-seater stadiums to England's major soccer clubs.   Continued...

Russia's soccer fans react after defeat at the Group A Euro 2012 soccer match against Greece at National stadium in Warsaw, June 16, 2012. REUTERS/Pawel Ulatowski