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Make football hooliganism a sport, says Russian MP

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A section of football fans engaging in a fight.photo/file

A Russian member of parliament has come out to make a bizarre proposal of turning the world’s irritating behavior of football hooliganism into a spectator sport.

Igor Lebedev openly predicted that thousands of fans would turn up in stadiums to see teams of unarmed competitors brawling in stadiums around the world.

This comes few months after a good number of highly trained hooligans from Russia battled English fans on the streets of Marseille during the 2016 European Championship. The legislature’s proposal comes barely a year before Russia hosts the next year’s World Cup.

Mr Lebedev went further to say that at times he did not see anything terrible about fans fighting. In a statement on the website of the nationalist LDPR party, the politician said organized brawls could turn fan aggression in a peaceful direction.

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“Russia would be a pioneer in a new sport. Fans arrive, for example, and start picking fights. And they get the answer – challenge accepted. A meeting in a stadium at a set time, “he said.

It is reported that some fan groups in Russia already organize illicit fights along similar lines, typically pre-arranged mass brawls in rural locations, away from police.

Mr Lebedev, a board member of the Russian Football Unionis a longtime associate of fan leader Alexander Shprygin. Shprygin was deported from France last year following the Marseille violence.

All the same Russia claims that no tourist will have ‘any reason to fear’ when they travel to the country for the 2018 World Cup competitions.

Despite his enthusiasm for football hooliganism, Mr Lebedev insisted that Russian policing meant foreign fans wouldn’t be in danger at the World Cup.”We’ve taken all the safety measures, modernized legislation thus not a single tourist has any reason to fear traveling to our country in the summer of 2018,” he said.

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