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World Cup 2018

Russian ultras and 'barras bravas' plan World Cup violence strategy

English hooligans will be targeted this summer as part of a combined approach from Russian and South American ultras who met up in Buenos Aires.
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Ultras rusos y Barras bravas, juntos en La Bombonera.

A delegation of Russian ultras was in Buenos Aires on January 31 to meet with several groups of 'barras bravas' with a plan to join forces for World Cup 2018 in Russia.

Ultras from Russia and Argentina unite

Of the 10 radical Russian fans, seven belong to Zenit St. Petersburg and three to Dinamo Moscow. Their intention is to combine efforts with the Argentine groups and together launch attacks on visiting English hooligans this summer.

Memories of the violent scenes of the Russian fans against the English in the last European Championships in France have not been forgotten, with street lynchings in the streets of Marseille and incidents inside the stadium getting plenty of media attention. Security forces are on high alert.

Supporters clash at Stade Vélodrome, Euro 2016
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Supporters clash at Stade Vélodrome, Euro 2016

Russians add support to attack English

The first meeting of the Russians was with Rafael Di Zeo, the leader of 'La 12', the Boca Juniors barra brava. The search for collaborators then involved those ultras from San Lorenzo, Vélez Sarsfield and Nueva Chicago.

In these discussions it has been reported that the Russians reached an agreement to arrange accommodation for the Argentinian groups, as well as transport and defense lawyers, in case they may need them. The Russians and Argentinians want to put together a strategic plan to go up against the English. In terms of locations, the English team will be based in St. Petersburg while Argentina will be in Moscow, where the "barra bravas" (the name for organised groups of supporters of football teams in Latin America) will have the support of the Dinamo fans.

England, Argentina and Russia have avoided each other in the group stage, but there is a potential hot spot in the schedule, the city of Novogorov, where Argentina face Croatia on June 21 and three days later England will play against Panama.

Los ultras, reunidos en un local de Buenos Aires.
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Los ultras, reunidos en un local de Buenos Aires.

Fake cards led to government discovery

The groups were discovered by Tribuna Segura, a unit created by the Ministry of Security of the Government of Argentina. Their aim: to improve security in Argentine football, and the identification of the Russians was when they tried to enter La Bombonera (the common name used for the home of Boca Juniors, formally known as Estadio Alberto J. Armando) with fake cards.

As soon as Tribuna Segura made it public, Argentinian media jumped on the story. The reports suggest that 280 barras will travel to Russia with entry and accommodation arranged. About 90 of these will be from La 12.