British Police have told English football fans going to the World Cup in Russia to not wave or display the St George flag, claiming it could be seen as “imperialistic” and “antagonistic”.
Up to 10,000 England fans are expected to travel to Russia next month, along with a small force of UK police to help keep them safe.
The head of football policing Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts argued the St George’s Crosses were seen as the top trophies for rival fans and ultras, as well as appearing to link them to the history of the British Empire.
“I think people need to be really careful with flags. It can come across as almost imperialistic… and can cause antagonism,” he told The Times.
“We really urge some caution about people putting flags out and waving them about in public, there is a bit of risk when people draw attention to themselves and people need to be aware of that.
“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 abroad and treat places with due reverence.”
He added: “The Cross of St George, with whatever team on it, becomes the trophy of choice.”
As England fans prepare to travel to the Russia 2018 @FIFAWorldCup , here is some advice on avoiding the unwanted attention of authorities – including a warning not to drape flags on sensitive memorials. pic.twitter.com/vXPSDl9tPe
— ITV News (@itvnews) May 15, 2018
Following clashes between Russia and England fans at the 2016 European Championship in Marseille, Russian ultras proudly posted images on social media of “captured” England flags.
Meanwhile, Kevin Miles, chief executive of the Football Supporters’ Federation, argued that England fans should respect other cultures as to how visitors would be expected to respect the UK.
He said: “Some of them have particularly strong opinions about how people in Britain should adopt to our way of life and the corollary of that when we go somewhere else then you have to respect their culture.”
He told fans to remember Russia’s heavy losses in the Second World War, and not to act provocatively in cities with a history of trauma such as Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 29, 2016