Moscow Champions' League diary

Moscow Champions League Final - Man U celebrate win/ copyright Getty images

The staff at our Moscow embassy helped over 40, 000 football fans enjoy the Champions' League Final between Man U and Chelsea on 21 May. Read about how they prepared for their arrival and helped those who needed it on the night and see the videos they made.

Three members of staff from teh British embassy, MoscowMonday May 19 - The calm before the storm

The majority of fans don’t arrive until tonight at the earliest.  But there’s an air of anticipation. 

13:30:  We’re about to leave in separate teams for Moscow’s three airports, where we’ll discuss final arrangements with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and airline staff and drop off around 25,000 travel advice leaflets for the arriving fans.

15:00: We’ve just been discussing arrangements for the Fans’ Match, between Spartak and Manchester United supporters, the morning of the big game.  Last year there was a bit of trouble around the England / Russia fans’ match, so it’s important to get this right while still making sure the fans have some fun. 

17:00: Peter Cornell, our SOCA representative - that's the Serious and Organised Crime Agency - and colleagues from the UK’s Football Policing Unit are off to a final pre-match meeting with their Russian colleagues.  Law-enforcement cooperation between the two countries in the run-up to the match has been excellent.

Tuesday 20 - The hordes arrive

10: 00: A busy media schedule today – Sky Sports, the BBC and local UK media – plus Moscow’s main newspapers and radio stations.  Most of the questioning is focuses on security arrangements, the fans’ behaviour and the wider relationship between the UK and Russia.  But it’s most important for us to get our  main message out there – making sure the fans know to behave themselves whilst still having a good time. 

14:25:  Consular reinforcements have arrived from around the region, plus over 40 volunteers from all parts of the Embassy.  This really is a team effort.  They’ll be split up into groups and shifts, some staying in the office on standby and others covering the airports. 

23:15: There are a lot of fans both in the bars and wandering around, all in high spirits.  It’s a warm, sultry evening, which adds to the carnival atmosphere on the streets. 

Wednesday 21 - Match day

09:00: Started the day with our first couple of consular cases – a broken nose and a broken leg, after some scuffles last night.  We’re in touch with the people concerned, who will hopefully still get to the match.  We’ve also heard reports of a gang of Russian youths ambushing fans close to where the cruise ships currently being used as floating hotels are moored.  The Russian police have been very helpful, offering to send extra patrols to the area tonight to make sure it doesn’t happen again. 

18:00: Reports from the fans’ match -  Spartak won.  No trouble between the Man U and Spartak supporters. 

19:30: Reports coming in of some trouble at an Irish pub. We’ve spoken to our police liaison, and the Russian police are looking into it. 

20:30: Apparently some Russians tried to attack a group of Manchester United supporters as they left the Irish bar.  The Man U fans did the sensible thing and went back inside until the police came.  No injuries, thankfully, but a couple of Russians have been arrested. 

Man U celebrate at the end of the Champions League Final in Moscow, May 2008. (c) Getty Images22:00: Word from the stadium - crowd control is excellent, with everything moving quickly and smoothly. 

22:45: Kick Off!  With all the fans now in the stadium, everything should be calm for the next 90 minutes.  So far so good. 

Thursday 22  - Home time

07:00: A fairly quiet night.  We’ve taken a handful of minor consular cases – lost passports and the like – but overall everything has gone very well.  And no arrests yet, either. 

11:00: We’ve had one detention, a guy already banned from travelling from the UK who was clocked by UK police spotters at the stadium last night.  Ideally he’ll be deported and dealt with in the UK.  The Football Policing Unit are on the case. 

12:00 The fans begin to head back to the UK. It’s been a hectic few days but it’s good to see our staff are still smiling.

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