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Gay football fans warned they will be 'found and stabbed' at 2018 World Cup in Russia

Police are reportedly investigating threats against LGBT fans.

2018-05-29

LGBT football fans travelling to the 2018 FIFA World Cup next month have reportedly been targeted with death threats.

Pride in Football, the alliance of LGBT Fan Groups, said it had recieved several direct threats ahead of the competition, which kicks off on June 14 and lasts for four weeks. 

Joe White, the group's  campaign leader, told The Mirror that the threats had been reported to the police, who were treating them "seriously".

"We've had people say that if they find us they'll stab us, so it's been a mixture but they're being dealt with seriously and those investigations are still ongoing," he said.

The reports come just a week after the Football Supporters' Federation, together with the Football Association (FA), and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, warned LGBT football fans travelling to Russia not to "publicly display" their sexuality.

Violence and discrimination against LGBT people remains commonplace in Russia, where laws banning the 'promotion' of homosexuality to minors were signed into law in by President Vladimir Putin in 2013, leading to an ongoing crackdown on gay rights protestors.

Mr White added that members of Pride in Football travelling to Russia would attempt to remain both safe and visible during their stay in Russia. 

"We shouldn't have to feel that we have to behave any differently than we would", he said.

"It's not like I'm going to be sticking my tongue down people's throats or anything. I'm going out there for the football and to experience the World Cup."

He continued: "If it's safe to do so we'll be taking rainbow flags, hopefully getting some form of visibility in stadiums to show that LGBT football fans do exist and, just as much as any fan, we're a valid part of the game.

"Unless there is someone kind of putting their head above the parapet, it's very easy for them to say we don't exist.

"I think we definitely have a responsibility to highlight any form of inequality. Hopefully teams, players and managers can come into that conversation when they feel safe to do so."