Russia vows to toughen punishment on sports hooliganism

Russia vows to toughen punishment on sports hooliganism
# 21 November 2012 18:52 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. The Russian government pledged to toughen punishment on sports hooliganism following recent misbehavior in and around stadiums in the country, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

During last Saturday's soccer game between St. Petersburg's Zenit and Moscow's Dinamo, a firecracker was thrown from Zenit fans' sector to the goalkeeper Anton Shunin.

The player received face burns and was shortly hospitalized. Zenit scored a technical defeat and police detained 92 fans after the game.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Monday vowed to punish football fans who jeopardize players' health and other fans' safety.

"Such misbehavior should not be taken easily. For such things one should be jailed," Medvedev told his deputies during a meeting.

Calling the incident "a deliberate crime," Medvedev expressed his hope that the police would find those hooligans who have thrown the firecracker to the soccer field. "This is absolutely obvious that there should not be impunity," he added.

Besides football, hooligan acts were also seen in the filed of other sports. Also on Monday, a young hockey player was shot in chest after a game in central region of Bashkortostan, local police said Tuesday.

The 19-year-old player Alexander Pavlinich was shot by a passerby who was "dissatisfied with the game on Monday night," R-Sport quoted police as saying. Though his life was not in danger, it was uncertain whether he could return to the playground again, doctors said.

On Sunday, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko was ordered to draft amendments aimed at preventing acts of sports hooliganism from happening in future.

The firecracker incident cast shadows over Russia's soccer stadiums, with the host country of the 2018 World Cup pledging to hold "a high quality championships" with full-scale preparation works, as what sports officials had said.

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said Tuesday that he hoped the 2018 soccer games could take place in "a wonderful atmosphere and safe environment."

Commenting on the latest incident, Valcke said such hooliganism "didn't correspond to what we are fighting against." Valcke also assured nothing like this would take place during the World Cup.

According to preliminary investigation based on a video tape, a girl from Zenit fan club could throw the bomb during the Saturday game.

The Russian team's fan club on Wednesday urged fellows to behave during future games, taking into account Zenit's looming disqualification by the UEFA and reminded that any new act of hooliganism could result in the team's elimination form the European competitions.

"Guys, the situation is very serious, it's the most serious ever. We believe in your good sense," the authors of the address warned.

The fun club condemned the act of hooliganism committed during Saturday's game. "We believe this was done by a provocateur or an idiot," according to a statement from the club.

Currently, Russian law envisages up to seven years of imprisonment for hooliganism in public. A criminal case was opened follow the incident. Zenit club also could be fined if investigators confirm the bomb was thrown by its fans as suspected.