19:13 GMT17 January 2021
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    Several people have applied for asylum in Finland using their special Fan IDs for the World Cup in Russia. The tournament has attracted some two million football fans to Russia and the Fan ID allows entry without a visa. Sputnik discussed this issue with Marko Saareks, head of risk analysis at the Finnish Border Guard.

    Sputnik: How serious is the situation right now? Are you seeing a lot of people trying to use their World Cup IDs to illegally migrate to Finland or other countries?

    Marko Saareks: I don’t think that the situation is serious. Of course we have to follow this situation and analyze it very thoroughly, but so far three cases. Of course this is quite exceptional because this kind of modus operandi of using sports competitions for immigration is quite new, but so far these numbers have been quite low. 

    Of course, the World Cup is going to go on till the middle of July and tourists have to leave Russia with Fan IDs until July 25, so this situation will go on for a couple of weeks. 

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    Sputnik: Don’t these people need a visa to travel from Russia to Finland; how are these people using sports IDs to cross the borders?

    Marko Saareks: They don’t use Fan IDs to get to Finland; they use Fan IDs to get to Russia during the World Cup. After that they use different means for crossing the border illegally. For example, trying to cross the border outside of the border crossing points, which is of course illegal; or they get falsified passports that they try to use at the Finnish-Russian border. Basically this Fan ID is just a tool to get to the Russian Federation and after that they have to use other ways to cross the border.

    Of course, Fan ID is not a [valid] travel document at our border crossing points. 

    Sputnik: The four people that were detained or arrived in Finland using these Fan IDs, will they be deported? What’s going to be happening to them now?

    Marko Saareks: Well they have applied for asylum, so our migration service will handle the case and it depends what will be the outcome of this asylum process. They will be deported if they are not granted asylum. Most probably they will be deported, but they will not be deported immediately at the border because of this asylum request. 

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    Sputnik: What can be done to sort of prevent this situation or prevent people from trying to cross the border if they don’t have legitimate asylum claims?

    Marko Saareks: The most important tool is cooperation with our Russian colleagues and to try together to keep the border line secured.

    The views and opinions expressed by Marko Saareks are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    fan id, border control, interview, migration, football, FIFA’s World Cup, Russia
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