England fans warned not to fly St George's Cross in certain areas at World Cup

Wednesday, 16th May 2018, 11:08 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th May 2018, 1:25 pm

England fans will be issued with a “sensitive sites” guide to Russia and urged not to hang flags in some areas or sing inappropriate songs ahead of the country’s first World Cup game on 18 June.

Fears that cultural insensitivity could cause violence between football fans and locals in areas of historical significance such as Volgograd have seen officials warn fans to be careful with flags amid concerns they could be deemed as “almost imperialistic” and antagonistic.

Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad, was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II with an estimated 1.8 million lives lost.

The city's UNESCO World Heritage Site Mamayev Kurgan Memorial complex 'To the heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad' is one of the most significant war memorials sites in Russia.

It's expected that 2,000 England fans will attend the country's first match against Tunisia in the city this June.

The UK Government’s Be on the Ball: World Cup 2018 guide says such memorials in Volgograd must be “treated with respect”.

Flag days

Mark Roberts, the national lead for football policing, said fans should be careful when displaying the St George's flag.

“Any student of history will know that the Russian casualties at the Battle of Stalingrad were horrific," he said.

“The memorials there are particularly sensitive and I’m asking fans to show cultural awareness. Flags are an interesting issue. People should be really careful with flags. It can come across as almost imperialistic and it can cause antagonism.”

It is estimated that between 7,000 and 10,000 England fans will travel to Russia during the World Cup.

Earlier this year Chief Inspector Joseph Stokoe travelled to Volgograd to discuss security with local police.

He said: “It’s fine to hang flags in the stadium or in a pub where you are paying customers and the owner is OK with it.”

England will also play Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on 24 June, and Belgium in Kaliningrad on 28 June.

The Government has confirmed that the British Embassy will have a presence on match days in all of the cities that England play a game in.