Myself (Dazz) and Charlie (One Song) went to the Russian Embassy today (May 15th) on behalf of CFCnet, for a meeting about the organisation of next weeks Champions League Final. Also present were three Man United fans, reporters from the Times, Guardian and other newspapers – as well as some television media; namely ITN and Sky (who we later refused to talk to).

There was a live video link-up to Russia, where questions were heard, translated and answered by Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko and his team. It appeared that this meeting was taken very seriously in Russia, with a six man panel on the link up, and with journalists in Russia asking questions as well as those at the Embassy in London.

The main points from the meeting are as follows;

VISA’s

  • The first question was that if Russia and Moscow knew two years ago they’d staging the final, and that at the start of April they knew the two countries in the final would need a visa, then why wasn’t it until May 6th when the Visa was waived?
  • A long winded response which started with talking about upgrading from a five star stadium to an elite stadium ended with them saying that it was due to Russian legislation, and that it had to take into account future sporting events. And that it wasn’t officially signed until yesterday (May 14th) as there were steps to go through.
  • Another note on the Visa issue is that between 17th and 25th of May you do NOT need a Visa, even for stays of over 72 hours, and you will not need to pay a charge when leaving the airport if you exceed a 72 hour stay. There is no payment upon arrival. You only need to pay if arriving before, or leaving after, the dates above.
  • Transfers from different Russian airports are also fine, as are land-border crossings, provided you possess a valid matchday ticket. Losing your match ticket is as bad as losing your passport, and it wasn’t clarified what exact steps you will need to take should your match day ticket be lost.

Security Measures

  • There will be 6000 policemen and servicemen of military force, on cars, foot and horses.
  • Several times as many stewards as usual in the stadium.
  • 1000 policemen a day for related events between 17th and 25th May.
  • The two airports have been allocated to each team to split them up, there will be police escorting transport to the stadium on the matchday from the airport.
  • 700 buses marked for each club to be laid on from the airport.
  • More than 15 interior ministry policemen from England will be out there, and have been consulted on the best approaches to handle the fans, and vice-versa happened with Zenit St Petersburg in Manchester.
  • Police will act politely and show respect, provided this is also mirrored by the fans.
  • UEFA and Russia consulted each other on security measured and all has been approved by UEFA.

The Stadium

  • Banners are allowed, just nothing offensive or that may look to incite problems.
  • Special magnetic gates fitted to count electronically and also rule out counterfeit tickets.
  • Hotels and the Stadium will be assessed a couple of days before the match to ensure hotels are safe and secure and that at the stadium they are satisfied with the safety.
  • Forbidden objects will be removed for storage during the game, 300 English speaking volunteers will cover the different areas of the stadium to help with this and ensure it runs smoothly.
  • Fans won’t be kept in the stadium for hours, they will be allowed to catch their flights or head back to the city.
  • The pitch has been imported from the Czech Republic, and will be laid in the next couple of days and inspected to ensure it is up to UEFA requirements.

Around the Stadium

  • You won’t be forced into the fanzones, we need confirmation (hopefully given tomorrow) whether these will be alcohol free or not.
  • There will be displays in each fanzone with a history of both clubs being on display, you may have an opportunity to get your picture taken with the Champions League trophy too.
  • There will be footballers showcasing talents too.
  • There are sports bars to watch the match in should you not have a ticket, but no big screens.
  • Over 100 temporary English signs will be erected to help direct fans to the stadium

Transport

  • Operates until 4am on the matchnight.
  •  21k of leaflets sent to each club to distribute to fans, neither set of fans were aware of the leaflets being received. It is the same one as on the official Chelsea Website however and can be found by clicking here.
  • Traffic lanes have been identified and there will be some restricted roads to prevent traffic jams to ensure that fans will get to and from the airport without problems.

Other

  • There will be enough machines at the airport to change pounds into Roubles too.
  • Alcohol is not to be consumed in public, it can only be done so in pubs and restaurants.
  • There is no expected response to the Zenit St Petersburg fans stabbing, such as revenge attacks.
  • A Man United fan asked if the Russian’s were footing the bill for transport from the airport, as there was a £6 mark-up on all tickets sold from United. The response was that Chelsea agreed to pay the fee for the fans, whereas Man United didn’t. From what I’ve read, Chelsea haven’t made this public that they agreed to do this, so it is good that they seem to have done it quietly and not made a big deal of it.

On behalf of myself and Charlie I would like to say that the meeting was very positive and worthwhile, and that it was taken very seriously in Russia, with thanks to Pavel Andreev for allowing us the opportunity to attend, and to discuss any issues we had.

As the meeting ran out of time, Pavel is happy to forward on and seek answers to any other questions we have, so if you have any please post them in the related forum thread and we will do all we can to get yours answered.

The following list of questions and issues will be e-mailed;

  • Clarification on whether the fan zones will be alcohol free will be asked.
  • The extent and procedure of what happens in the event of a lost matchday ticket.
  • With reports of Neo-Nazism, is there any extra concerns that a black or Asian should anticipate in Moscow?
  • Will police be heavy handed with fans in pubs, i.e is singing allowed on the Tuesday and Wednesday day, or should it be kept to a minimum.
  • We have been told that there is strictly no drinking or smoking in Red Square so are there any other traditions, protocols we should be aware of when visiting so as not to spoil a potentially great experience, i.e hanging flags, groups of people etc.