St George flags are too 'imperialistic' for World Cup, say police

Paola Ditto
Mag 16, 2018

England football fans attending the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation are being warned not to display the St George's Cross as it risks being seen as "imperialistic" and "antagonistic".

The head of football policing said that the flags have become a "trophy of choice" for hooligans from rival countries. "It can come across as nearly imperialistic... and can cause antagonism", he told The Times. The supporters traditionally gather in city centres before worldwide tournaments and display hundreds of flags - but police are warning them to be sensitive about how they go about showing their national pride.

"We would not expect people to come across to this country, get drunk and drape flags on the Cenotaph so we need to extend the same courtesy when we go overseas and treat places with due reverence".

About 10,000 England fans are expected to travel to Russia for the tournament next month and there are fears of scenes similar to when Russian fans charged England supporters at Euro 2016. He pointed out that most British football fans were seasoned travellers.

But he also invited English fans to consider how nationalistic misbehaviour would be viewed if it happened in Britain. As a result, the city is home to a number of important war memorials.

It is on Russian "honour to guarantee the safety" of England fans travelling to the World Cup, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has told MPs.

Mr Roberts, of the National Police Chiefs' Council, said the increased tensions between the two countries after the Salisbury spy poisoning incident could play a role.

England supporters in France for Euro 2016 clashed with Russian fans, who posted pictures of dozens of "captured" St George flags.

She said: "At the European Championships in 2016 Russian hooligans showed themselves to be organised, well armed and extremely violent".

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