Manchester United fans were warned by the club ahead of their trip to Rostov that they should not commute in Russia alone, wear the clubs colours of “attract attention to your presence in the city”, given the trouble that Russian hooligans caused at last year’s European Championships.
Yet what welcomed them in the south-eastern city was not thugs, violence and unsavoury scenes, but a group of Rostov fans who handed out blankets to the United supporters to cope with the cold temperatures on Thursday night.
United left Rostov with a 1-1 draw giving them a potentially crucial away goal, and Jose Mourinho cut a relieved figure after the match as his squad avoided any injuries on what he described as a “dangerous pitch”.
But while Mourinho wasn’t pleased with his reception at the Olimp-2 Stadium, United fans certainly got a warm welcome.
A group of fans passed out blankets to away supporters outside the stadium, with some United fans stopping to shake hands with the Russians and thank them for their generosity.
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The kind act paints Russia in a far more positive light ahead of next year’s World Cup, which will take place in the country that was largely held responsible for the violent clashes seen in France at last year’s Euros. Russia will also host the 2017 Confederations Cup in the summer, which will act as a trial run for Fifa’s showpiece tournament next year.
United had warned fans to remain cautious while travelling around Rostov, due the fears that their supporters could be targeted by Russian gangs similar to those that travelled to France.
“For your safety and security you are advised not to wear Manchester United colours when in Rostov, or attract attention to your presence in the city,” read a letter sent by United’s Head of Ticketing and Membership, Sam Kelleher.
“It is also advised you stay in groups where possible, and do not walk around the city alone.
"It is not just opposition football fans who may potentially pose a risk to your safety, and incidents of serious disorder during the European Championships in France last summer, involving violent individuals and groups emanating from Eastern Europe, should be remembered when considering your movements and actions, and any potential risk.”Reuse content