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Fan battles can become a sport - Russian MP outlines plans for football hooliganism

Russian MP Igor Lebedev has proposed that football fans should turn fighting into a sport after criticism of hooliganism in the country.

With Russia hosting the World Cup next year, the country has come under scrutiny for its fan culture following incidents involving their supporters at Euro 2016.

Now, though, Lebedev is suggesting that fighting between fans could become a spectator sport if they "introduce rules and conduct team competitions".

"Given that our fans are fighters - but not hooligans - fan battles can be turned into a sport," he told his political party's website.

"It's a one-on-one fight turned into a sport - why not just turn Russian fun into a sport? Introduce rules and conduct team competitions.

"This way, the aggression of the fans can be directed into a peaceful channel, and set an example for all other countries - including England.

"For example, English fans can come and in return the challenge is accepted. [There would be a] meeting at the stadium. On each side, there are 20 people, without weapons. You can see the rules on our website."

Lebedev even has a name for his new sport - "draka" - which is the Russian word for fight.

"Russia would become a pioneer in a new sport," he added. "Of course, there is no need to invent any foreign names: let the word 'draka' enter."

These suggestions came as Lebedev outlined his frustration at the depiction of Russian fans in the British media.

"They are not at all hooligans," he said. "First of all, they are those who support their clubs with all their heart.

"They organise support and propaganda for their clubs: they are connoisseurs, adherents and fans of football in the truest sense of the word.

"Yes, they sometimes fight - but only with colleagues. They are not touching the peaceful population. This is different from football hooligans in England."