Fears for fans’ safety at World Cup ‘blown out of proportion’

The World Cup tournament in Russia is set to start on June 14    Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire
The World Cup tournament in Russia is set to start on June 14 Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire
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FEARS raised over the safety of England fans during the World Cup in Russia amid fresh warnings by the UK government are ‘blown out of proportion’, according to a Pompey fan travelling to the tournament.

A Foreign Affairs Committee report claims England fans run the risk of facing ‘racist or homophobic intimidation, hooligan violence and anti-British hostility’.

Around 10,000 supporters from the UK are thought to be heading out to Russia as tensions remain at levels not seen since the Cold War following the former Russian spy poisoning in Salisbury. The deterioration of relations led to the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the UK before Vladimir Putin’s government struck back by ejecting British Embassy officials.

Conflict between the two nations had already been high after England fans were attacked by Russian hooligans at the 2016 European Championships in France.

But despite the negativity surrounding the tournament Pompey fan James Robbins, featured in The News’ recent agenda on the World Cup, said he has not been deterred and remains ‘excited’ by the prospect of heading to Russia on Thursday.

‘I can’t wait for it, I’m just really excited to get out there. We’ve had two years of this – there is a lot of scaremongering. It’s all blown out of proportion. I’m confident it’s going to be ok,’ James said.

‘We haven’t really had any advice from the governement or the FA about travelling out to Russia. The only bit of advice we had came from the supporters federation in a booklet where they warned of racist attacks and advised homosexuals not to reveal themselves in public.

‘The main thing I’m worried about is before our second game against Panama when Croatia play Argentina. There is talk some of their fans will be teaming up with the Russians to target England fans so that could be interesting. I have two black friends who are not travelling out there because they fear being attacked.’

He added: ‘I’m glad the political unrest has calmed down from before, though, and that you don’t hear so many stories like Russian bars selling poison alcohol shots to England fans.

‘Walking around on the street late at night after a few beers will be the biggest risk I think as you will be in a city you don’t know where you could be targeted.’

James, of Petersfield, will be providing The News with live updates from Russia throughout the tournament.