Thursday, May 9, 2013

Russia to pass World Cup Law for Soccer fans

A lot of soccer fans across the globe balked when Russia was awarded the hosting rights to the 2018 World Cup, but the nation aims to do its best to make sure fans feel at home. It’s expected that over a million fans will be visiting the country for the tournament and Russian politicians are planning on passing something called a 'Fans Law' which will help to guarantee the safety of visitors.

The proposed legislation will allow fans with tickets to soccer games to enter the country without the need of a visa. In addition, there will be free travel by train and bus offered between the event’s host cities for fans. There will also be new laws introduced that are aimed at dealing with sports hooligans. The fans law has already been passed by Russia’s lower house of parliament and it will be looked over by the upper house later this year and then signed by president Vladimir Putin.

Fans that are found guilty of causing trouble in the soccer stadiums and other public areas will be fined about 5,000 roubles, (approximately U.S. $500) and could face up to 15 days in jail. Local politicians said they’re concerned about hooliganism and are glad new laws are being passed to deal with them. However, some critics saw the laws are too lenient and don’t go far enough when it comes to handing out punishment.

There are stricter laws in place though depending on the level of trouble hooligans engage in. Some of the lighter lawbreakers could be faced with community service as well as bans from sporting events in the country. Russian politicians said they want visiting fans to be treated like kings during the World Cup and they will be trying to instill a family culture at the games by introducing safer and newer stadiums.

The lawmakers claimed that hooligans can be found all over the world, but pointed to England, where most of the hooliganism has now been stamped out and soccer games are seen as a family experience by many. The say soccer stadiums are no longer battlegrounds for troublemakers the way they were 30 and 40 years ago and they believe Russia can eradicate most of the trouble in about five years time.

World Cup organizers are expecting more fans at the 2018 tournament because the country is located close to Asia and Europe. At the last tournament in South Africa in 2010 approximately 400,000 fans visited from overseas. The next World Cup will be held in Brazil in 2014, but since it’s a long trip from Europe it’s hard to predict how many visitors will show up.

Russia also allowed soccer fans to enter its borders without the need for an entry visa back in 2008 during the final of the European Champions League in Moscow. Things went quite smoothly with about 30,000 fans arriving from different parts of the world for the game between Chelsea and Manchester United, two English Premier League clubs.

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