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Nigeria fans in the stadium before the match with Argentina, Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 26, 2018

Almost 2,000 Nigerian World Cup fans still in Russia, 6 months after tournament

31 January 2019

Almost 2,000 Nigerian football fans who arrived in Russia for the FIFA 2018 World Cup are still in the country, making up the largest number of the more than 5,000 supporters who have remained illegally.

It was reported last week that more than 12,000 World Cup fans had still been in Russia as of December 31 – the date on which the FAN ID system formally ended.

The system allowed fans with World Cup match tickets to enter Russia during the tournament without a visa, as long as they held a FAN ID document.

The scheme was deemed a success and extended so that FAN ID holders could continue to enter the country without a visa until the end of the year.

The Russian Interior Ministry reported last week that the number of fans remaining in Russia illegally beyond the deadline had been reduced during January, but still stood at 5,500.

Nigerian fans at their team’s game against Iceland in Volgograd in June.

The Interior Ministry press service provided RIA Novosti with a breakdown of those numbers on Thursday.

Nigerians make up the largest group still in Russia, with 1,863 citizens yet to have left. That’s followed by people from Vietnam (911) and Bangladesh (456) – neither of whom were playing at the 32-team tournament.

Senegal, who were playing in Russia but like Nigeria were knocked out at the group stage, have an estimated 253 citizens still in the country.

The Interior Ministry has said that work to expel those in the country illegally will continue, and is expected to be completed by the end of March.

Around 650,000 foreign fans visited Russia during the tournament, according to the ministry.

“In the main, they were all law-abiding and left the country in their own time,” migration department head Andrei Kayushin had said last week.

Some fans may well have been looking to continue the World Cup party, although others may have hoped to enter Russia before moving on elsewhere – including to the EU – AP reported. Others are said to have planned to file for asylum in Russia.

The World Cup in Russia was hailed as among the best ever, and was won by France, who beat Croatia 4-2 in the final at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on July 15. 

A version of this report was first published by Russia Today.

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