Vladimir Putin Offers Visa-Free Entry Into Russia For FIFA World Cup 2018 – Country Amends Laws After UEFA Euro 2016 Fiasco

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed multiple laws that ensure the FIFA World Cup 2018 could proceed with minimum hassles. The country has made it simpler for foreigners to enter the country, while weeding out the issues faced during the ongoing UEFA Euro 2016 championship.

Russia has been preparing itself to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. While the country is already deep into raising the infrastructure fit for the prestigious international football competition, it is also busy amending a few laws that would make life for football fans, especially those travelling from other countries to attend the matches easier and hassle-free, reported Russia Beyond The Headlines.

Staying true to his word, Putin signed a new law that extended a special time-bound visa-free entry policy during the FIFA World Cup. The Russian President had promised to offer the simplified entry process way back in 2014. Russia had won the bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup over five years ago.

What does the new law offer? The bill reintroduces a new concept called “Fan ID.” The ID extends special entry permit into Russia for the duration of the game and then some more. The bill states anyone with a Fan ID will be allowed to enter the world’s largest nation without having a Russian visa. The Fan ID holder will be allowed to stay in the country for the entire duration of the World Cup, as well as for the period of 10 days before and after the championship, reported Xinhua News Agency.

In order to gain entry into Russia to attend the FIFA World Cup in 2018, spectators with the Fan ID will only have to produce an identification document, a ticket for a match or a document verifying the purchase of a ticket, reported Inside The Games.

The country is expected to start accepting registration from fans who want to attend the global football championship. Incidentally, the concept of an online database of spectators isn’t new for Russia. The country had put in place a very similar system for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Spectators were asked to fill in their personal information in the online database way before the Winter Olympics were scheduled to start. All those who registered correctly were granted an “identification document” from the Russian authorities. The document served as an identification card for foreigners attending the event.

The bill about the Fan ID cleared both houses of the Russian Parliament – the State Duma and the Federation Council last month.

Besides the Fan ID, Russia has also made it a little stricter for its citizens to procure tickets to the football matches, especially after the country was left embarrassed due to Russian fans during the UEFA EURO Cup 2016. The law, already signed by Putin, mandates Russians must show proper identification if they intend to procure tickets.

According to the official website pertaining to official information release, the Interior Ministry has been authorized to create a blacklist of fans. Anyone who is mentioned in the list will be banned from attending any of the matches. It is not clear exactly what parameters are involved in considering the validity of a local. However, Russian football fans were blamed for violence before the Euro 2016 match with England in Marseille last month, reported Yahoo. About 20 Russian citizens, who were part of the group that caused the ruckus, were deported back to Russia. While the fate of the Russian citizens still remains unknown after they landed in their country, France chose to jail three fans for their unruly behavior.

Interestingly, the law mandating proper identification for sporting events isn’t restricted to FIFA World Cup 2018, confirmed the country. The law is valid for all official sports events in Russia and takes effect immediately.

[Photo by Anna Sergeeva/Getty Images]