Football fans unanimously claim that they eagerly awaited the 2021-2022 sports season. In terms of football, 2021 turned out to be a very intense year: this summer, fans enjoyed the games of the European Championship for a whole month. Initially, the tournament was scheduled for 2020, but some adjustments were made due to the pandemic. The final match of the Championship was held at Wembley Stadium, London. In total, there were more than 67 thousand people in the stands. The Italian national team won the penalty shootout with a score of 4:3, becoming the European champion.
The 2022 World Cup qualifying process has been actively held throughout the year, but only 15 teams will be selected for the final tournament. The final games will be held in Qatar in November- December 2022.
St. Petersburg will host the final of the UEFA Champions League 2022 at the Gazprom stadium later this year. It promises to be an unforgettable, large-scale event scheduled for May 28. Bookmakers note that betting on football will be significantly more popular this season than betting on any other sports competition.
However, this year you will need more than just an entrance ticket to get into the stadium as a fan. At the first State Duma meeting, it was decided to introduce a new system for identifying visitors to sporting events. So now, to get into the stadium without any issues, a visitor must get a so-called “fan passport” in advance.
For Russian viewers, a document like this is not something new. The fans tested this innovation at the Olympic Games back in 2014. It was then that the government and Ministry of Sports representatives first thought about intensifying measures aimed at ensuring personal safety and maintaining public order. Even though a severe incident in the stands took place way back in 2010, the introduction of an additional identification document was approved. After the positive experience of using “Fan ID” at the Olympics, it was extended to the home matches of the Confederations Cup in 2017 and the World Cup in 2018.
What is a “Fan ID”?
To have an opportunity to support your favourite team directly from the stands, you will be required to present an entrance ticket and a “fan passport” at the entrance to the stadium you will. This is a bright laminated card that contains all the necessary personal data of the owner: citizenship, full name, gender, date of birth, passport number, information about the issuance of the ID. A photo and current address of residence is also a mandatory condition.
Everyone, without exception, will have to get this pass: fans, personnel, coaching staff and even the athletes themselves. An application for a “passport” for children under 14 years of age can be submitted by one of the parents or the child’s legal representative.
By the way, it is essential to have a new version of the “fan passport”. If a spectator got this document for the 2018 World Cup or the 2014 Olympics, they would be denied entry to the stadium. It is advised to update the pass if it is issued before October 1, 2021.
How to get a “fan passport”?
It is quite a simple process. You can provide all the necessary information online. This method is suitable for visitors of the country, as well as for citizens who find it hard to get to Moscow or St. Petersburg. Administration of the commission that issues the “Fan IDs” promises to use personal data only for specified purposes and not pass it to third parties under any circumstances.
The “passport” is free for all holders of entrance tickets, regardless of citizenship. If a fan lives in the capital city or St. Petersburg, this document can be ordered at the special centres that issue “fan passports”. It usually takes a few days to make it, but given the scale of the event, a pass for the Champions League should be purchased in advance. Please note that you must confirm you have an entrance ticket to apply for a “Fan ID”.
It is considered that the “fan passport” and the ticket guarantee the visitor a safe entrance to the stadium. For the convenience of the spectators, it became possible to purchase a mobile ticket, which is very important in times of a pandemic. To buy a ticket, you do not need to leave your home; you just need to install a mobile application and make a payment.
Pros and cons of this innovation
The main pro of having the “fan passport” for foreign citizens is that it allows a visa-free regime. The country’s leadership approved the Ministry of Sports preposition to replace the visa with a “Fan ID”. Now, if you have this pass and a ticket to a sports event, you do not need a visa when crossing the border. These conditions apply from May 7 to July 12.
Another bonus of having a “passport” will be an opportunity to use public transport for free on the game day.
And, of course, this identification system aims to reduce the likelihood of public order offences by not allowing unreliable persons to enter public places.
There are far more negative responses from the fans than positive. It is justly questioned: why tighten security measures if there are no prerequisites for this? In addition, the vast majority of stadiums in Russia are equipped with a facial recognition surveillance system. And the employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs scrupulously compile a “black list “of people who offended the public order or have a bad sports history. Temporary sanctions are applied to such citizens: they are denied entrance to sports events, and their season tickets are invalidated.
The main con of the new identification system is that applications for the document can be rejected without providing a reason. The official documentation does not specify reasons why a person may not be allowed to attend the event clearly – so there is nothing to justify the rejection with.
Many fans claim that the atmosphere of real football – chanting, flags and sincere emotions will disappear with the new system. Now it’s impossible to go to football whenever you want. You will have to prepare for this in advance.
The necessity to get a pass will also have a negative impact on attendance. During coronavirus infection, the number of people visiting the stadiums drops significantly, and now there are additional bureaucratic issues. Of course, not everyone will want to apply for a “passport”, even if they are the most ardent football fans.