Russia’s Euro 2016 campaign could be over before it even begins, after Uefa threatened to deduct six points from the country’s qualifying campaign in the event of further serious crowd trouble involving its fans.
Uefa issued the warning with a $150,000 fine after Russian fans lit and threw fireworks during the side’s 4-1 win over the Czech Republic last Friday. Potentially inflammatory ‘Russian Empire’ banners – provocative in parts of eastern Europe that were once under Moscow’s thumb – were also seen, while four volunteer stadium stewards were beaten up and had to receive hospital treatment.
Euro 2012 qualification in danger
The suspended sanction effectively means Russia’s attempts to reach France in four years’ time could be for nothing, just as the team was beginning to win plaudits for attractive, free-flowing play after years in the wilderness.
To dismantle hooliganism, Uefa have come up with a hard-hitting solution to what has arguably become a more complex problem, with football-related violence. Russian football chief Sergei Fursenko said they will launch an appeal against the sanction but admitted that they would be bound to accept the points punishment if there was further trouble.
“It’s a very disappointing situation when the team has to be responsible for its fans’ unruly behaviour,” said Fursenko.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2012.
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