More than thirty thousand tickets have been sold to England fans for FIFA World Cup matches in Russia between 14 June and 15 July.
But ticket applications by England fans for the 2018 World Cup are substantially lower than the previous tournament, noted by Boris Johnson MP, the Foreign Secretary, when he appeared in front of the Committee in March.
Fans' reluctance to travel
Tensions resulting from the attack on the Skripals in Salisbury; clashes between English and Russian football fans during the 2016 European Championships in Marseilles; and a disappointing team performance across World Cup events, are being blamed for fans’ reluctance to travel. The UK’s diplomatic presence in Russia has also been reduced, which may impact the consular support available to British football fans.
Whatever the reason, Mr Johnson challenged the Russian authorities to ensure that England fans would be ‘well-treated and safe in Russia’.
"We want England fans, and those supporting other teams, to be able to travel safely in Russia and enjoy themselves. But the increasing tension and pattern of violence is causing concern.
"The Foreign Office website is already warning travellers to ‘be aware of the possibility of anti-British sentiment or harassment’ – due to ‘heightened political tensions’ between the UK and Russia.
"In March, the Foreign Secretary gave us some insight into the discussions taking place in advance. We know the UK is no longer sending high level political representation. We also know that Russia has expelled 23 UK diplomats – reducing the consular support British football fans could have relied on.
"Russia must look after all fans travelling to the 2018 World Cup – not just because it is in the FIFA contract. But we hope our inquiry will provide some reassurance to travelling fans from the UK that the Foreign Office is taking the right precautions too. We want the Foreign Office to look after the politics of this situation and let the fans enjoy the games."
Send a written submission
The Committee welcome written submissions that address the following issues:
- The risks faced by UK nationals travelling to Russia during the World Cup:
- The risk of violence by football hooligans;
- The particular risks faced by LGBT and ethnic minority football fans;
- How these risks have been affected by the Salisbury incident and subsequent heightened tensions.
- Measures taken to address these risks by the British and Russian governments, including police cooperation:
- The adequacy of these measures, and what, if any, further steps should be taken to ensure the security of UK nationals;
- How these measures have been adjusted following the Salisbury incident;
- The FCO’s role in coordinating preparations across government, and the resources and staff numbers dedicated to this;
- The objectives of the “Be on the Ball” public information campaign, and the metrics the FCO will use to evaluate its success.
- Lessons learned from previous international sporting events, including the 2016 European Championships in France, and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.
- How the expulsion of British diplomats has affected the FCO’s preparations for the World Cup.
Send a written submission to the inquiry on The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's preparations for the World Cup.
The deadline for written submissions is 13 May 2018.