MOSCOW, November 1 (R-Sport) – Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko criticized Russian police on Friday for using water cannons to disperse brawling fans at a Russian Cup match in Yaroslavl.
Dozens of supporters fought with each other and tore up around 500 seats to hurl them at police during Spartak's 1-0 win at second-tier Shinnik late Wednesday, forcing the referee to suspend the match for half an hour.
“When you see water cannons, these are the horrible images for a country that is preparing for the World Cup,” Mutko said. “I have a feeling we have regressed 15 or 20 years. These [water cannons] are used at mass disturbances when it’s impossible to stop them. But it is a stadium, of course; it’s not normal.”
The Russian FA statutes could see Spartak receive a home stadium ban of up to three matches over the unrest; a decision is expected later Friday.
A Nazi banner was also unfurled during the game in a development that could land Spartak in yet more trouble. In a website statement, the team claimed that those waving the swastika flag had “no relation whatsoever to Spartak supporters,” and offered a reward for the information on the culprits.
It came on the same day as the Union of European Football Associations handed down a partial stadium ban to CSKA Moscow for “racist behavior” by their supporters during their 2-1 Champions League loss to Manchester City earlier this month.
Russia over the summer introduced legislation from President Vladimir Putin 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.