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World Cup hooliganism won't be a problem, Russia knows stakes - UEFA president

UEFA president Aleksandar Ceferin has told kicker he believes hooliganism will not be a problem at the World Cup because hosts Russia are aware of what is at stake.

Violence broke out around England's meeting with Russia in Marseille at the 2016 European Championship, and fears have been voiced that Russian hooliganism could blight the World Cup.

Ticket applications from England supporters have been significantly low amid worries over violence and heightened political tensions between the two countries, but Ceferin said travelling fans need not worry about possible attacks.

"I've seen the pictures from Marseille on TV, but the Russians are smart enough to know what's at stake for the image of their country and that of the game. They will know how to prevent those riots in their own country," he said.

Meanwhile, LGBT fans travelling to Russia for the World Cup have been advised not to publicly display their sexuality for their own safety.

England's Football Supporters' Federation (FSF), in partnership with the Football Association and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has issued advice warning that attitudes may be less tolerant than they are at home.

According to the advice, same-sex sexual activity was decriminalised in Russia in 1993, but fans have been warned there are no laws to protect LGBT people from discrimination.

It says: "Unfortunately the issue of LGBT+ rights has appeared a topic of taboo to the authorities ahead of Russia 2018, unlike before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, when Russian president Vladimir Putin said that gay people would be welcome in Sochi."

However, it adds that Russia will want the World Cup to run smoothly, so "it is highly probable there will be additional focus on ensuring that homophobia and other forms of discrimination don't take place."

Anti-discrimination group Fare is also set to produce a Russia 2018 guide for fans from the black and ethnic minority and LGBT communities.

Speaking at the end of last year, its director Piara Powar said: "The guide will advise gay people to be cautious in any place which is not seen to be welcoming to the LGBT community.

"The same message is there for black and ethnic minority fans -- do go to the World Cup but be cautious."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.


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