London, June 13 (IANS) British law enforcement authorities have blocked over 1,200 local football hooligans from entering Russia for the duration of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which kicks off on Thursday night in Moscow, the UK Home Office said on Wednesday.
"More than 1,200 troublemakers with a history of football-related disorder have been blocked from going to the World Cup after a joint operation by police and the Home Office," the statement said, reports Tass news agency.
"The Football Banning Orders Authority (FBOA) -- part of the Home Office -- ordered 1,312 banned individuals who hold a passport to surrender it to police on Monday 4 and Tuesday 5 June," according to the statement.
"The latest figures released today (Wednesday 13 June) show that forces in England and Wales have accounted for 1,254 passports Police will hold the passports until the World Cup final on 15 July."
The statement from the Home Office quoted Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd as commenting on the security measures that "The World Cup is a festival of football and is no place for violence or disorder."
"The UK's system of football banning orders is unique and means that people intent on causing trouble in Russia will instead be staying at home," Hurd said. "I'm grateful to police forces for taking the necessary enforcement action to ensure that these thugs won't be able to ruin the tournament for real fans."
Last week, First Deputy Chief of the Russian Interior Ministry's Department for Security of Large International and Mass Sports Events Police Major-General Anton Gusev said that six UK law-enforcement officers will be involved in measures to provide security at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Britain's Daily Star came up with a report late last month saying that England's football fans were gearing up for something in Russia during the World Cup and that it was "going to be like World War Three, Four, Five, Six and Seven." The Daily Star's article was titled "England hooligan firms' hardcore uniting to 'wipe the floor' with Russian Ultras."
The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off on Thursday with the opening match in the Russian capital of Moscow between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia.