Russia's failure to address the violence caused by their fans at Euro 2016 has come as a major concern for those hoping to both compete in and travel to the World Cup in 2018.
Organised groups that wear gumshields and MMA gloves brought misery to unwitting English fans on the eve of their opening group game in Marseille earlier this month with at least one left in a life-threatening condition after being hit on the head with a metal pipe.
Following on from that, crowd trouble was broadcasted on international television with Russian fans seen overpowering stewards and charging at their English counterparts. The vast majority fled for the exits while some chose to defend themselves.
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The result was a suspended disqualification for Russia with UEFA telling them a repeat would result in their immediate elimination from the contest.
But several senior figures have since mocked the seriousness of the task they face. President Vladimir Putin recently joked that he could not believe how "200 Russians beat up thousands of English" while a top football official, Igor Lebedev, encouraged the thugs to "keep it up".
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Blame it on the English
Now Russia's very own forward Fyodor Smolov has become the latest to enjoy the ridiculous comments brigade, insisting that his home nation's fans were not to blame for the violent scenes witnessed across Marseille and Lille.
And who did he blame? The English. Of course he did.
He told reporters: "As for everything that goes on around us, there’s a number of videos that have been uploaded on the web and clearly the English really did provoke them, and indeed the Welsh fans – clearly these events mustn’t go on in football stands.
"But if people really want to go out with the intention of scrapping, they should fight elsewhere, they shouldn’t do so in the stadium – we want to have support in the stadium.”
Here is a translated video of that interview:
It appears likely that Russia will be heading home regardless of what happens in their final group game against Wales. Leonid Slutsky's men have reaped just one point from their first two games and need a win to have a chance of qualifying for the knockout rounds.
If England beat Slovakia, they could theoretically finish second but, unlike their fans, they have shown little fight at this tournament. On and off the pitch, the signs are not good for the host of the next World Cup.
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