This is not a fight to death like what we saw gladiators do in Spartacus. This is a fight for honour and glory and those involved may get isolated from violence if the motive of the physical combat proposed by Russian lawmaker Igor Lebedev lives to serve its purpose ahead of next year’s FIFA World Cup.

Lebedev has proposed an unorthodox solution to the country’s football hooliganism quagmire ahead of next year’s event, legalise it and turn it into a spectator sport.

Organised groups of Russian fans, many with martial arts training, fought English fans on the streets of Marseille during last year’s European Championship in France.

That inspired Lebedev to draw up rules for what he calls ‘draka,’ the Russian word for ‘fight’ – 20 fighters on each side, unarmed, in an arena.

Some fan groups in Russia already hold illicit fights along similar lines, typically pre-arranged mass brawls in rural locations, away from police.

It isn’t the first time Lebedev has courted controversy with his views on hooligans. He hailed the violence in Marseille last year, telling Russian fans: “Well done lads, keep it up!”

In a statement on the website of the nationalist LDPR party, Lebedev says organised brawls could turn fans’ aggression in a peaceful direction and it would serve as an example for English fans, who he characterised as undisciplined louts and poor fighters and he believes fights between different fan group could draw crowds of thousands.


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