A Russian politician wants to turn football hooliganism into a "sport" ahead of the 2018 World Cup

Last year, the UEFA Euro 2016 championship in France saw a new breed of hooligan emerge as hundreds of national supporters took “mixed martial arts [MMA] gloves and gum shields” to assault groups of rival fans. Some reports suggested that 19 Britons were hospitalised after just one clash.

Russian Football Union board member and politician Igor Lebedev famously quipped at the time that he “did not see anything terrible about fans fighting. On the contrary, keep it up!”

Now, Lebedev, who represents the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, has attempted to downplay hooliganism by claiming those involved are simply passionate supporters.

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