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Russian fan leader banned from opening Confederations Cup match
June 17, 2017 / 3:45 PM / 5 months ago

Russian fan leader banned from opening Confederations Cup match

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian soccer fan leader Alexander Shprygin has been barred from attending his country’s opening Confederations Cup match against New Zealand in St Petersburg hours before kickoff on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: Alexander Shprygin, the leader of a Russian soccer fan union, attends a news conference in Moscow, Russia June 23, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Shprygin, who had been deported from France last year during the European Championship, said he had been notified by Confederations Cup organisers that his fan-ID, needed to attend matches, had been cancelled.

“No one explained the reasons for this,” Shprygin told Reuters before adding that he knew of other cases of last-minute cancellations.

“They gave me a fan-ID and then two hours (before the match) they cancelled it, apparently on purpose so I don’t have the time to complain.”

The organising committee could not be immediately reached for comment.

Shprygin was among a group of Russian fans expelled from France after violence flared before and during Russia’s Euro 2016 match against England in Marseille. He managed to re-enter France later in the tournament, only to be expelled again.

The Russian Football Union severed its ties with Shprygin’s organisation following the incident.

After clashes between Russian and England fans tarnished the European championship, President Vladimir Putin approved legislation which allows authorities to hand out tougher punishment for violence at sporting events.

Russian authorities said the Confederations Cup’s ticketing system, which requires ticket holders to apply for a personalised fan-ID, ensures that fans are screened and trouble makers are kept away.

Russia’s interior ministry has blacklisted 292 fans, including 54 spectators who last month invaded the pitch at the Russia Cup final in Sochi, effectively banning them from attending official sporting events.

Shprygin’s name does not appear on the interior ministry’s list, according to a check Reuters carried out on Saturday.

Reporting by Moscow Newsroom, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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