South Yorkshire police chief returns to Russia for World Cup operation

DCC Mark Roberts has returned to Russia
DCC Mark Roberts has returned to Russia

A South Yorkshire police chief leading the UK's World Cup policing operation in Russia has returned ahead of England's semi-final tomorrow.

South Yorkshire's Deputy Chief Constable, Mark Roberts, who is heading up a delegation of police officers from across the UK who have been deployed to work with the Russian authorities during the World Cup, has returned because of the influx of English fans arriving for tomorrow's game v Croatia.

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Because 1,700 known or suspected hooligans had their passports seized to prevent them travelling to the tournament, including 129 in South Yorkshire, he said incidents of trouble have been 'few and far between' in Russia.

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DCC Roberts was briefed by those involved in the policing operation when he arrived yesterday ahead of meeting with Foreign Office officials.

He said he is pleased with the behaviour of fans.

"There is a really good, positive atmosphere, it is really relaxed and there are still fans from lots of countries enjoying the tournament," he said.

Around 10,000 English fans are expected at tomorrow's semi-final based on ticket sales and flight records but he said officers are also prepared for a possible large influx of ex-pats and fans flying to Russia from other countries.

"There are a lot of Russians in England shirts, The Premier League is very big here so there are a lot of fans supporting England, adding to the atmosphere," he said

"We were always confident that we would run a good operation to stop people on bans from travelling to Russia and the success of that has reassured the Russian authorities that the fans who are at the tournament are genuine supporters and they have behaved really well."