Russia: Police disrupted several attacks during World Cup

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Russian authorities said Wednesday they stopped seven attacks on foreign fans before the World Cup this past summer.

About three million fans attended soccer matches in Russia for the international soccer tournament, which was hosted in 11 Russian cities. One of the world’s largest sporting events, next to the Olympic Games, the cup was ultimately won by France.

Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev said Wednesday law enforcement disrupted groups that planned attacks during the event.

“Thanks to the rapid exchange of information, the activities of seven nationalist ‘football-hooligan’ groups were stopped during preparations for the championship,” Kolokoltsev said, according to the Moscow Times.

“Criminal cases into extremist crimes have been opened in connection with these incidents.”

Kolokoltsev said fans from Senegal, Argentina, Britain and Poland were targeted for nationalist attacks.

State-run news agency TASS reported Russia blocked 3,000 foreigners from attending the World Cup or preparations.

Kolokoltsev said a database maintained by Interpol identified 16 internationally-wanted individuals in the days leading to the games — and that several criminal groups were arrested.

The World Cup was seen by some as a recovery for Russia and President Vladimir Putin, which were criticized after Russian athletes were accused of widespread doping after the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.