Rabat – They did not come to Russia just for the love of football. Some Moroccan fans at the 2018 World Cup have tried unsuccessfully to enter the EU illegally by crossing into Finland.
According to AFP, Russian border guards have arrested four Moroccans who tried to escape near the small Russian village of Ketrovaara in Karelia, about 10 kilometers from the border with Finland.
The four men entered Russia with the “FAN ID,” a document that provides visa-free access to Russia from June 4 to July 15, and tickets for the June 15 Iran-Morocco match, according to a statement from the authorities in Karelia.
“The Moroccans explained that their real goal was not to see the World Cup but to cross the border and go to Finland,” it has been reported to AFP. The four men were sentenced to be expelled from Russia and fined 2,000 rubles (MAD 300).
Since the beginning of the World Cup, five people, including three Moroccans, a Nigerian, and a Chinese national have crossed the Russian-Finnish border to seek asylum in Finland, according to Marko Saareks, the head of a Finnish Border Guard Unit.
This situation was anticipated, according to senior Belarusian border guard Alexey Sitenkov. “We know what trains they are going to take and we are preparing for Europe to refuse them and to go the other way,” he said.
Two weeks before the incident, Abdelkader Lecheheb, the Moroccan Ambassador to Russia, warned Moroccan fans regarding their stay in Russia.
“A supporter who stays in Russia for more than 50 days is liable to administrative and financial penalties,” he told Moroccan outlet Le Matin.
“Those who don’t follow the rules must go before a judge and possibly receive a fine before being allowed to leave Russian territory. We explained everything because we do not want our fellow citizens to be exposed to sanctions. We also insisted on the behavior and the respect of the Russian laws and regulations.”