MOSCOW, November 7 (R-Sport) – Russian football team Spartak Moscow has failed in a second bid to overturn its empty-stadium order after fans brandished a Nazi flag and committed acts of violence.
The flag, bearing a prominent swastika, was displayed on the same day as European football governing body UEFA punished Spartak’s rival CSKA Moscow for fans’ “racist behavior” in a Champions League match against Manchester City.
Spartak was ordered to play two league games behind closed doors as punishment for fans’ conduct during a 1-0 cup win over Shinnik Yaroslavl last week, and had already had one appeal turned down prior to Wednesday’s decision from the Russian football association.
The ruling, published on the Russian FA’s website, means that Spartak’s home game against league leader Zenit St. Petersburg on Sunday will be played in an empty stadium. The same conditions applied for Spartak’s 3-1 loss to Lokomotiv Moscow last week.
Spartak was also fined 600,000 rubles ($18,500).
The FA did not specify which part of Spartak’s punishment was for the display of the swastika flag, and which for violent behavior by fans.
Host team Shinnik, whose fans did not appear to be involved in any racist incidents, was ordered to play three games behind closed doors and to pay 500,000 rubles ($15,400).
UEFA cannot rule on the racism or violence since it did not occur in a continental competition.
Photographs of the incident accompanying Spartak’s website statement Friday appear to show the swastika flag being held by one man, while those around him, who are mostly wearing Spartak colors, do not seem to object.
The match was marred by repeated crowd trouble, with 78 arrests made after brawls between rival fans and police.
During the second half, the match was stopped for almost half an hour as police used water cannons against fans who were ripping up seats and hurling them at officers. Spartak eventually won 1-0 thanks to a Dmitry Kombarov penalty.
On Thursday, Spartak said authorities in the city of Yaroslavl were “unprepared” to deal with trouble and insisted that those waving the swastika flag "have no relation whatsoever to Spartak supporters."
Shinnik has placed the blame firmly on Spartak, issuing a statement thanking home fans for their support, while noting that: “Not all of our guests, the fans of the team from the capital, behaved themselves properly.”
The hard core of Spartak's supporters is notoriously ultra-nationalist. Police have vowed to investigate the fighting and swastika incidents.
Earlier Friday, Spartak offered an unspecified reward for any information on the “unknown provocateurs” waving the flag.
Russia over the summer introduced legislation aimed at curbing misbehavior at sports events, with the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2018 football World Cup on the horizon.
The so-called Fan Law comes into effect on January 19, 2014. There have been more than 14,000 offenses committed at Russian sporting events over the last three years, according to Sports Ministry figures.