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Russia Slams BBC Film Warning Of Fan Violence At 2018 World Cup

Russian soccer fans clashed with English fans last year during the EURO 2016 tournament.

Russian officials have slammed a BBC documentary that featured Russian soccer fans warning they might stage a "festival of violence" at next year's World Cup, calling it "propaganda."

Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, who is organizing the World Cup event, said on February 17 that the film aimed to "discredit" the first such premier soccer competition in Russia.

"Russia gave security guarantees...and will meet its obligations," he said.

Russian soccer official Vladimir Markin called the film "propaganda...designed to make as many English fans as possible refuse to come."

A BBC spokeswoman responded that filmmakers "spoke with a number of Russian football firms to understand why they behave the way they do," and also highlighted Russian police efforts to hold down violence at the games.

One hooligan in the documentary stated, "For some it will be a festival of football, for others it will be a festival of violence." Another voiced a "100 percent guarantee" of violence against English fans.

Several Russian fans were expelled from France last year after street battles broke out with English fans in Marseille at Euro 2016.

The BBC film featured the "Orel Butchers," hardcore supporters of Lokomotiv Moscow who were accused of instigating the violence in France.

Based on reporting by AFP and TASS