Spartak Moscow supporters have called on fellow fans to boycott the Russian Cup final later this month in an ongoing protest against government plans to introduce a fan identification system.
Spartak played out a draw with Russian Premier League champions Zenit St. Petersburg Moscow on Sunday, with an entire section of Otkritie Bank Arena empty as the club’s ‘Ultras’ opted to stay away against measures.
Ahead of the Russian Cup final against rivals Dynamo Moscow at the Luzhniki Stadium on May 29, die-hard Spartak fans said they would not let up on their protest despite the scale of the game.
“My friends, Spartak has reached the Russian Cup final for the first time since 2006. And it is truly a joyful event! I hope we will celebrate our team’s victory on May 29 in the oldest derby of Moscow, read a message from Mikhail Divinsky, a key figure in the Ultras, on the Russian social network VKontakte.
“But now I want to touch on an equally important topic – the boycott of the main matches in connection with the imminent introduction of Fan ID. I have read comments in which many are calling to abandon our decision and go to the Luzhniki stadium.
“Guys, you call for abandoning your principles, betraying your ideals and breaking your word! Spartak fans are responsible for the lyrics and will respect the boycott, regardless of the team’s next game,” added Divinsky
“The fans are not sold for profit, which in this case will be the cup final. I’m sure the players will manage without active support and please us with the long-awaited trophy.
“This final is a great chance to ensure that the voices of thousands of people are heard. Fan identification should not be in stadiums in Russia.
“This law violates our freedoms! If we refuse to defend our interests today, we risk being out of the stadium tomorrow and leaving our club without support for many years.
“And once again: on May 29, in the main game of the season, there will be no active fans in Luzhniki. Remember that!”
Groups of Spartak supporters and elsewhere at Zenit have vowed to boycott matches after Russia’s State Duma passed the FAN ID law which will introduce a new passport system for large-scale domestic sporting events.
In addition to obtaining tickets, football fans will be required to formulate a separate FAN ID document to participate in matches.
The program is not entirely foreign to Russia and was first used when the country hosted the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.
It was successfully used again during the Russia 2018 World Cup, as well as in Saint Petersburg during Euro 2020, with special advantages such as visa-free entry for foreigners.
Proponents of the measure say it will improve security measures and allow authorities to weed out or punish unwanted elements among crowds.
Those against the measures say they will cause additional hassle for Russian fans hoping to attend matches and result in more data being handed over to authorities.
Fans actively protested the measure in December last year and continued when the Russian Premier League resumed after its winter break in February.
The law has already been signed by President Putin and is expected to come into force on June 1.
Much of Spartak’s loudest support was conspicuously absent in Sunday’s home game against Zenit – usually among the most anticipated clashes of the season.
The area behind one of the goals usually occupied by Spartak Ultras at the Otkritie Bank Arena was entirely uninhabited, leading to a subdued atmosphere in which traveling Zenit fans were often the most audible.
Already crowned Russian champions for the fourth consecutive season, Zenit snatched a draw thanks to Andrei Mostovoy’s penalty equalizer, canceling out a 49th-minute header from Spartak striker Aleksandr Sobolev.
Spartak had another disappointing season domestically, languishing in 10th place in the table and the Russian Cup final offering their only hope of silverware.
The Moscow club surprised many in Europe when they topped a Europa League group containing Leicester City, Napoli and Legia Warsaw, but were dropped from their last-16 tie with RB Leipzig after UEFA imposed a ban on all Russian teams due to the conflict in Ukraine. .
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