Council of Europe FIFA World Cup 2018 Monitoring Visit to Russia

Members of the Council of Europe pictured on a recent visit to Russia

A Council of Europe Standing Committee of 47 member countries and observers monitors the application of the European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events. Observers and attendees of each standing committee meeting include, FIFA, UEFA, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Tunisia, INTERPOL, Supporters Direct and Football Supporters Europe.

At major international tournaments such as a World Cup or European Championships, an ad hoc working group is set up by the Standing Committee to evaluate the security provisions ahead of the event and to review them after, to ensure the lessons learnt benefit future events.

Incidents of violence, disorder and other misbehaviour have long been associated with football, the world’s leading spectator sport. However in the eighties a number of high profile incidents of violence and disorder associated with international football matches and tournaments, demonstrated that the so-called problem of football hooliganism was a European-wide issue, which required a cross European response from the Council of Europe. The challenge for the Council of Europe was, and remains, how to spread its core values in and through sport while preventing and countering the unwanted behaviour (violence, doping, manipulation of competitions, etc.) that threatens the integrity of football, other sports and the wider community.

The Council of Europe Standing Committee seeks to raise standards through its recommendations. It is recognised that if these recommendations are fully adopted by each country, that the safety, security and provision of service to spectators at events would be significantly improved.

The Council of Europe Standing Committee objective is to describe standards and to promulgate its recommendations, collective knowledge and experience, to service deliverers across its area of influence.

The emphasis throughout is on developing a multi-agency, integrated approach based on a plurality of agencies working in partnership amid an ethos of co-operation and a determination to provide a safe, secure and welcoming environment for all spectators at football and other sports events. A new conversion for 2016 also focuses on the importance of developing a dialogue with key stakeholders, including local communities and supporters.

Monitoring visits provide the Standing Committee with a way of ensuring each country adopts its recommendations.

Russia requested a monitoring visit in May 2016 as part of its safety, security and service preparation for the World Cup 2018. The visiting group included experts in stadium safety from the UK, legal experts from Spain, policing experts from Romania and Denmark and Supporters Direct and UEFA.

The programme included meeting with the Ministry of Sport and the Ministry of the Internal affairs along with the Russia Football Union, the Premier League and FA, the Russia Safety Officers Association and supporter groups. The meetings involved high level discussions on how Russia ensures safety through a certification process, embraces security and counter terrorism, and engages with supporters through its supporter liaison programme.

During the visit the inspection team observed a Premier League football fixture as well as the Ice Hockey World Championship semi-final. There was also a meeting with the security officers of FC Spartak (Moscow), FC Zenit (Saint-Petersburg), FC Lokomotiv (Moscow) and FC Dinamo (Moscow)

The inspection team were impressed at the commitment and professionalism of their Russian counterparts, their preparations for the World Cup are well advanced.

The European Convention on Spectator Violence

On 4 May 2016, The Committee of Ministers adopted the Council of Europe Convention on an integrated safety, security and service approach at football matches and other sports events.