The interview came after Manchester United landed a spot in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals after beating the Russian football club Rostov 1-0. The association football (soccer) match between the teams took place at Old Trafford stadium in Greater Manchester on Thursday night.
Last week, FC Rostov showed a strong drive for victory in the first leg and managed to tie with Manchester United, in terms of points won at its home ground on Olimp-2 stadium. However, the final whistle on Thursday night put an end to Rostov's gutsy European campaign.
While some may have expected heated exchanges between the two clubs, the fans organized a cordial reception to allow spectators to meet each other during both games. It occurred despite some media reports claiming that Manchester United fans were set to be targeted by super-violent Russian ultras during the match in Russia.
Commenting on all this, Mikhail Starov specifically drew attention to "the good atmosphere" that prevailed during and after the match in Rostov, with police on stand-by and fans of both teams "singing songs in local pubs."
He said that "nobody was aggressive or violent" as police escorted Manchester United fans to the stadium, adding that "there was no aggravation during the game."
He also addressed " the strange situation" regarding speculation on football hooliganism, a topic which he said is deliberately "warmed up and supported by the [mainstream] press."
When asked about his thoughts about a recent BBC documentary demonizing Russian fans, Starov quoted some people familiar with the issue as saying that "it was a false film," which he said showed a biased approach to covering football fan-related events.
In February, the BBC released a documentary about Russian football hooligans, who allegedly plan to turn the upcoming FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia into a veritable "festival of violence."
He also dismissed concerns and rumors about Russian football hooligans allegedly planning to unleash a wave of violence upon foreign football fans during the event, adding that Russian law enforcement agencies are competent enough to deal with any problems that may arise.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be held at venues in more than 10 Russian cities in June and July 2018. The event will be the first-ever World Cup to take place in Eastern Europe.
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