Wednesday, April 30, 2008

45,000 English Soccer Fans Set to Invade Moscow

In what could be a flashpoint in Anglo-Russki relations, already frayed, upwards of 45,000 to 50,000 English soccer fans will be headed to Moscow this summer for the Champions League Final between Manchester United and Chelsea. As reported in "The Independent":

"Paul Scholes' winning goal for Manchester United against Barcelona on Tuesday night ensured that the nightmare most feared by Uefa, European football's governing body, would come true. Tens of thousands of United fans will now travel 1,500 miles for the privilege of watching their team play against their Premier League rivals Chelsea, who beat Liverpool 4-3 on aggregate at Stamford Bridge last night.Many fear that Moscow is simply not capable of hosting the influx, with a Foreign Office official warning that there are no hotel vacancies in the city around 21 May when the final takes place. A war of words has also broken out between London and Moscow over the system of granting visas for travel into both countries."

Already speculation has broken out about the potentially volatile mix of Russian hooligans, the notorious Russian riot police, the OMON, and England's well known hooligans. As noted in another article in "The Independent":

"They will also have Russian hooligans to deal with, many of whom model their "firms" on 1970s English football hooligans. "We've all read books and seen films about the Chelsea Headhunters, and other English firms," said one Spartak Moscow fan, "and people can't wait to test themselves against the best and most violent supporters in the game." Then there is the fearsome Omon riot police to contend with. Likely to be present in their thousands at the game, they have no qualms about using violence to quell trouble. In Moscow, a Manchester United vs Liverpool final is considered the most dangerous outcome."

This could result in something that would severly test EU unity and civility to put it mildly and might even result in American Football in Russia.

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