“Politics makes strange bedfellows” is a quotation from wise American journalist Charles Dudley Warner, who was referring to the deal making in the U.S. government during the heyday of U.S. political deal making.
The phrase seems to be equally apt in Russia these days, as Vladimir Putin prepares to further boast of his country’s hosting services in the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament.
Russia has its soccer hooligan problem, just as do other countries, but Putin appears to be putting the reins on Russia’s particular brand of football hooliganism, attempting to muzzle the neo-Nazi crowd that have spent the past several decades making their presence felt at Russian matches.
Russian government security forces are trying to make the problem disappear ahead of the June 14 opening of the 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament, in a fashion that could be described as far less circumspect that the Chinese authorities to persuade Beijing restaurateurs from listing dog on their menus ahead of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games.
The Russian government forces are a no-nonsense lot and talk of things such as freedom of speech and due process of law are absent in the face of intimidation and “preventative” arrests as Putin does everything in his power to keep anything from spoiling his coronation.
Putin may succeed, as least so far as his showpiece-sporting event is concerned. Once the cameras are pointed away of Russia, the problems are certain to re-emerge to the extent that the Russian soccer hooligans are the undisputed “Tsars of the football underworld.”
One sign of the scope of the problem is the shock expressed by Europe in general, as the escalation since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been dramatic.
The gangs, known as “ultras,” took their cue from the British thugs of the 1970s.
If Warner were alive today to witness the goings on, he would have amended his observation to, “Politics and football make strange bedfellows.”