LONDON (Agencies): The U.K. government has blocked at least 1,200 football hooligans from going to Russia for the World Cup, which will kick off on Friday. A joint operation by the Home Office and police saw the forces in England and Wales have accounted for 1,254 passports after ordering “1,312 banned individuals who hold a passport to surrender it to police,” according to a government statement.
The Football Banning Orders Authority (FBOA) and police “will continue to root out the small number of outstanding passports throughout the tournament”. The passports of the known troublemakers will be held by the police until the World Cup final game which is set to be played on July 15. “The World Cup is a festival of football and is no place for violence or disorder,” Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd said.
“The U.K.’s system of football banning orders is unique and means that people intent on causing trouble in Russia will instead be staying at home,” Hurd said. “I’m grateful to police forces for taking the necessary enforcement action to ensure that these thugs won’t be able to ruin the tournament for real fans,” he added. Football-related arrests have fallen to an all-time low since the introduction of football banning orders in 2000.
Football banning orders on troublemaking individuals are imposed by courts and can last for up to 10 years.
Breaching a banning order is a criminal offense and can result in a fine of up to £5,000 ($6,660) and a six-month prison sentence.