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Russia: New Rules for Sports Fans Introduced

(Feb. 11, 2014) On January 20, 2014, a government regulation entitled On Rules for Spectators’ Behavior at Official Sports Events entered into force. (Government Regulation No. 1156 of December 16, 2013 [in Russian] [hereinafter Regulation], ROSSIISKAIA GAZETA (Dec. 19, 2013).) The Regulation appears to be a response to increased violence and intolerance recently demonstrated by team fans at various sports events throughout the country. (James Glynn & Corey Flintoff, Racism Mars Russian Sports in Advance of World Competitions, NPR PARALLELS (Nov. 4, 2013, at 2:59 p.m.).)

The Regulation defines what can and cannot be brought to the stands by fans and determines the procedure for applying for and receiving permits to use flags, banners, and other “items used to support a team” during sports competitions. (Regulation, supra.) According to the Regulation, organizers of a sports event must define a separate area at the stands for active supporters of each team participating in the event and decide where the allowed visual, graphic, or noise-making support items can be placed. (Id.)

Any items that are more than 16 inches in any dimension are recognized as large and are not allowed in the stands, the Regulation states. Similarly, all firearms, fireworks, other flammable items; paints; sprays; alcoholic beverages; soft drink beverages in large glass or plastic containers; flashlights; laser pointers; and musical instruments are outlawed at sports events. (Id.) Loudspeakers, drums, and selected sound-making devices can be used by designated fans according to a permit issued by the organizers. Applications for permits must be submitted no later than two business days before the event, and a permit can be issued in line with a quota for such permits established by the event organizers within the following 24 hours. Local police authorities must be informed of each permit issued. (<!–?Id.)

A similar permit procedure is established for using banners and flags. The Regulation prescribes that all messages written on the banners must be in the Russian language or be translated into Russian from foreign languages or other languages used by national minorities living in Russia. All translations require official notarization. Flags must be fireproof-certified to be used at the events. (Id.)

The Regulation provides that individuals who are drunk; are accompanied by animals; wear masks or other clothes that cover their faces; appear nude; or express political, commercial, extremist, or other provocative statements can be removed from the stadium. Violators of the Regulation will be held liable according to existing Russian law. (Id.)