Posted 14 марта 2023,, 15:24

Published 14 марта 2023,, 15:24

Modified 14 марта 2023,, 17:23

Updated 14 марта 2023,, 17:23

Football without fans: Fan ID system deprived stadiums of spectators

Football without fans: Fan ID system deprived stadiums of spectators

14 марта 2023, 15:24
Ирина Мишина
The Russian Premier League is back, but you can now get to football matches only with a Fan ID, or a fan card. This card has already alienated hundreds of thousands of spectators from football and changed this sport, making it less spectacular.

Irina Mishina

In the third round of the RPL championship, the Fan ID system was launched at five stadiums at once. The attendance of such matches disappointed everyone – both clubs, players, and fans.

Fan ID is not a pass to the match. Rather the opposite...

Fan ID is a special Russian electronic document for attending football matches, proving the identity, with a photo, surname and name of its owner.

The Fan ID Law came into force on June 1, 2022. To get a fan passport, you need to make an application and pass a check through the website Public services. On the day of the match, fans, competitors, organizers and media employees must have a Fan ID. It is not easy to issue a Fan ID: you need to apply to "Public Services", then come to the MFC to confirm your identity, or go through the whole procedure there. To make a document, you need a person's personal and contact details.

Why are fans protesting against Fan ID? Many people do not like that absolutely all personal data will end up in someone's custody for an unknown purpose. Secondly, a difficult and multi-stage registration procedure, and thirdly, even in the case of buying a completely cheap ticket, they may not be allowed to attend the match without explaining the reasons - at least because of the political position, and there are more and more such cases. Spartak fan Alexey Usachev, representing the association "Fratria", in the new edition of the program "In Dvizhe" said:

"For the first time, Russian fans encountered the Fan ID system at the World Cup in 2018. Then many did not receive their IDs and did not get to the home World Cup.  And the test system was still at the Confederations Cup in 2017, everyone rushed to get a Fan ID, everyone got it. Then many people, coming to the stadium for the first match or the second, realized that the ID was blocked. Tickets were missing, and most people were deprived of football without trial, without reason".

"The stands are empty because the FAN ID. Fans don't want to receive it, because they don't see the point in this document. They always went without it, and now they demand to get it. And, most importantly, it is unclear why? Taking into account the fact that even football players, referees, coaches and journalists should receive a fan's passport, it still turns out that there are few people willing. But even the players had problems, for example, they sent a photo 10 times, but they did not accept it. But the stands are empty not only because of the inconvenience of the system. The idea itself is not accepted by the fans", - says sports journalist Kirill Shulika. In fact, today the entire football community has rebelled against FAN ID.

"This is an opportunity for law enforcement agencies and authorities to block this or that visitor without explanation. In our country, a person can be restricted in attending sports events only by law, by court. But as we know from the Confederations Cup and the World Cup, if you just didn't like something, you had police records at football 10 years ago or something else - that's it, you're already in the database of dangerous persons, and you're blocked", - writes Sport24.

And now political reasons may arise, in connection with publicly expressed views and beliefs… Although according to the rules, it is now possible to get into the list of banned persons by a court decision — according to the famous article 20.31. In the new system, everything is vague: people are chosen based on the past, in the personal opinion of those who decide. In general, it is not known by what principles. It came to mass protests. Some of them end in arrests, for example, an action against fan ID at Gazprom Arena.

Material and emotional losses

The results of fans' discontent were not slow to affect the attendance of stadiums. In the graph, the columns correspond in descending order to the attendance of the matches of the teams: Zenit, Spartak, Krasnodar, CSKA, Lokomotiv, Akhmat, Dynamo.

The first RPL game in the second half of the season, which required a fan's passport to attend, was the Ural— Krasnodar meeting at the Yekaterinburg Arena. According to the official protocol, it was visited by 2,997 fans with a maximum capacity of 35,000 people. This is a complete and outright failure.

There are almost 3 times fewer people going to Spartak now than in the fall. The attendance of the Torch game at the Otkritie Bank Arena is just sad: only 5002 people. At the same time, the club gathered more than 12 and a half thousand spectators in the fall. These were impressive figures even against the background of the fans' boycott that had begun and restrictions by order of the Ministry of Internal Affairs: no more than 15 thousand people were allowed to enter the stadium. At the two spring matches of Spartak, the average attendance is about 4,600 people. That is, because of the Fan ID, 2.7 times fewer people go to Spartak than in the fall.

"Five thousand spectators at Spartak? I can't remember when there were so many spectators at Spartak. This is Spartak! Even in this weather, there would be at least 20 thousand", - the forward of this team, Alexander Sobolev, is surprised, – When the stadium is full, the atmosphere is completely different. And so I hear the commentator from the edge. We are playing for the fans, but they are not there".

Spartak captain Georgy Dzhikiya is also disappointed: "The main loss for Spartak is not so much monetary as social, emotional", - he said, – The club and the players are losing the heart of support, it's impossible to buy". Dzhikiya regrets that some young footballers were unlucky, because they have never played with full stands and do not understand what it is. After all, full stands, flags, support, songs – all this is an important element of the match. The players lost all this.

In Rostov, the worst figure of the season was recorded: only 4,394 people came to the game of Valery Karpin's team with Pari NN. But Fan ID has been working there since the summer! The previous anti–record - 4458 spectators at the game with Orenburg was in early August.

According to RPL, Zenit, the leader of the championship, only 15,965 spectators came to the game with Khimki. However, the St. Petersburg club claims that there were more - 20,638 spectators. But if we take all the same RPL data, Zenit has an anti-record of attendance in the matches of the Russian Championship at Gazprom Arena. There is only a game with "Pari NN" nearby – 19,705 people. Even the promotion did not help to gather spectators for the game with Khimki: free tickets for schools and state employees of St. Petersburg. After the winter break, the average attendance of Zenit dropped by almost 50%.

Everything is really bad for CSKA, there is minus 8.5 thousand of the average attendance. At the match against the Wings of the Soviets, less than 3 thousand fans gathered at the 30,000-seat VEB Arena.

But the main anti–record is the match "Torpedo" with "Ural", which was attended by only 207 people! Of course, Torpedo is not the leader in match attendance, but 207 people is a failure even for this team.

It is even difficult to predict the loss of income of clubs due to falling attendance now, but sources those close to the RPL clubs do not hide their pessimism. According to their estimates, Spartak and Zenit are waiting for the largest losses of revenue matches - up to 400 million rubles per season. The cumulative losses of the league clubs can reach 1.5 billion rubles even compared to the pre-season 2018/19 and 2019/20.

Football and politics

What is all this done for? Spartak fan Alexey Usachev, who represents the Fratria association, expresses the following opinion in the program "In Dvizhe": "As we know, all sorts of bad things are being done behind the facade of the words "peace" and "security". We will turn off the gas and light for you if you don't do this. We went to the square, if you don't like politics — everyone is fined with a machine gun. A facial recognition system is being implemented everywhere, and according to the algorithm of each person's actions, movements of his body, even without a face, they can understand what kind of person he is. There is a removal of biometrics, digitalization of everything and everything... Let's use it for the benefit of the economy, for real things".

Will FAN ID kill Russian football?

Interestingly, sports observers of the federal media refuse to discuss this topic at all, considering it part of state policy. But it's hard not to admit the obvious facts.

"Stadiums are idle, only 10% occupancy of most arenas, sometimes less. Television broadcasts, as predicted even in the management of Match-TV, will also be watched a little", - says sports journalist Kirill Shulika, - The fewer people in the stands, the less they watch. Sport is not in the first place now, especially in the absence of international competitions. The level of football has dropped a lot. There are no European cups, high-quality foreign players, there are no national team games with strong opponents, most teams have no motivation. It is clear who will be the champion, who will be eliminated. What to play for?"

What should I do if both fans and clubs are against the Fan ID?

Obviously, it is time for the fans to unite and conduct a dialogue with the authorities from a position of law. Yes, there is an All-Russian Fan Society in Russia, but it is a pro-government structure with a budget that has become a cause for discord. Fans should create an independent organization that would protect their rights, communicating with the authorities on an equal footing. Today, the fans for the authorities are mostly marginals, radicals and hooligans, who supposedly are not even worth considering. The situation has reached a critical point, and it needs to be changed urgently. Otherwise, why football at all?