In Brief

Russian hooligans 'guarantee' violence at 2018 World Cup

Gang leaders tell the BBC that English fans will be singled out as targets at the tournament in Russia next year

England fans are "guaranteed" to be targets for Russian football hooligans if they travel to the 2018 World Cup, which will be turned into a "festival of violence" according to the thugs responsible for attacks at Euro 2016.

A BBC documentary to be screened tonight features "rare interviews with members of some of the most feared firms like the Spartak Gladiators and Orel Butchers", says the broadcaster, and "uncovers a world where brutal violence has become a mark of honour and a symbol of newly resurgent Russian masculinity".

In the film, hooligan leaders claim they have the backing of President Vladimir Putin and state that English supporters will once again be targeted.

"Clashes between Russia and England supporters, centred around the countries' group-stage meeting in Marseille, blighted Euro 2016 last summer, leading to fears among senior British government officials that the violence unleashed by Russian hooligans was sanctioned by the Kremlin," reports The Guardian.

Hooliganism is rife in Russia and the gang leaders "are ready to defy a crackdown on football-related disorder in the country ahead of the World Cup", says the Daily Telegraph. The paper warns that English fans could come under attack from "combat-trained thugs lying in wait for them".

In the programme one Russian supporter, who was involved in the violence last summer, says trouble is "100 per cent guaranteed". He also offers advice to travelling fans who want to avoid getting involved. "Have a family and children around you... if you are there with your friend, with your male friend, you should calculate with getting your arse kicked."

Another hooligan says: "Everyone from the fans' movement is looking forward to the World Cup taking place in Russia. There is no need to travel to have fun."

Fifa president Gianni Infantino says he's "not at all concerned" about the threat of hooliganism. He says he has "full confidence" in the ability of the Russian authorities to prevent violence.

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