The Russian government has reportedly begun to take the liberty of banning fans from Confederations Cup games it determines to be a problem, and they’re doing it at the last possible minute.
According to Associated Press reporter James Ellingworth, the Russian government has forced fans to purchase a “fan ID” along with their ticket in order to gain entry to games. The government can cancel this form of identification at any given time, allowing them to control those who enter games and those who are denied. According to Ellingworth’s report, the government has already taken the liberty of banning fans just hours before the opening game between Russia and New Zealand, leaving their tickets useless.
The report states this system will also be used at next year’s World Cup.
One fan cited in Ellingworth’s report, who serves as the head of a notable supporter’s group, said he was halfway through the drive from Moscow to St. Petersburg to attend the game when he was notified via email that he would be denied entry. The fan apparently has a troubled past, having been booted from France twice after fan violence following a game between England and Russia last year.
All this comes despite poor fan attendance and ticket sales for the Confederations Cup. According to Sky Sports reporter Bryan Swanson, just 65% of the tickets have been sold for the entire event, with 7,000 tickets available for the opening match just the day before the game.
Obviously, it’s a bad look for Russia when games featuring the host nation are not sold out, and the stadium features large sections of empty seats. It won’t help if the government is banning fans with tickets in hand from entering the stadium.
The Russian government does well to purge the crowd of troubled fans, but holding sole control over who can attend matches is a slippery slope, and according to Ellingworth’s report, there are some supporters who feel the cancellation of their tickets are unjustified.
Despite poor ticket sales, the government has given fans of the host nation yet another reason to think hard before purchasing a seat at the games.