The radical idea of turning football hooliganism into a sport has been proposed by a Russian politician.
With less than 18 months to go until Russia hosts the World Cup, Igor Lebedev has drafted rules for a “draka” – the Russian word for fight – featuring 20 unarmed combatants on each side.
The MP for the Liberal Democrat Party, who gained notoriety last year when he seemed to encourage Russian hooligans at Euro 2016, further stated that the event could attract as many spectators as a football match.
On his party’s website, he said: “Russia could become a pioneer in a new kind of sport. Fans arrive and start picking fights – the call is accepted at the meeting at the stadium … on each side of 20 people, without arms.”
Lebedev, who is also a member of the Russian Football Union’s executive committee, defended the clash between fans of Russia and England at last year’s European Championship as “normal”, adding: “I don’t see anything wrong with the fans fighting.”
Two England fans were left in a critical condition after three days of violence in Marseille.
Russian hooligans last month warned England fans that they are “100 per cent guaranteed” to be targeted at the World Cup.
One hooligan, known as Denis and the leader of the ‘Orel Butchers’ group that was at the centre of the Marseille violence, said tactics honed domestically had given them the upper hand over England fans at Euro 2016.
“There is some street-fight tactics that we obviously exercised a lot of times fighting in cities,” he said in a BBC documentary, Russia’s Hooligan Army.
Speaking of next year’s World Cup, he added: “They can come over and we’ll see. Somebody will obviously try to do something, that is like 100 per cent – 100 per cent guaranteed.”