Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Pussy Riot claim responsibility for World Cup final pitch invasion

The match resumed after a delay of about one minute.

Pussy Riot have claimed responsibility for the four pitch invaders who disrupted the World Cup final between France and Croatia in Moscow.

Just after Croatia goalkeeper saved Kylian Mbappe in the 51st minute, four people emerged from the other end of the field.

One made it to the centre circle.

bpanews_84b7f192-33ea-41a4-8911-595a6028e119_embedded237584571
Pussy Riot claimed responsibility for the protest (Aaron Chown/PA)

They were quickly tackled by security, and the match resumed after a delay of about one minute.

The women of Pussy Riot, a Russian punk rock group, rose to global prominence with their daring outdoor performances critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2012 that sent two members to prison for nearly two years.

The punk band said in a statement posted on their Twitter feed that the disruption was a protest.

The four people, three women and one man, who charged on to the field in the 52nd minute simultaneously in what appeared to be old-fashioned police uniforms were tackled to the ground by stewards.

Croatia defender Dejan Lovren pushed a male protester, helping a steward to detain him.

“I really was mad because we’d been playing at that moment in good shape,” he said.

“We’d been playing good football and then some interruption came. I just lost my head and I grabbed the guy and I wished I could throw him away from the stadium.”

Before being hauled away, one woman managed to reach the centre of the field and share a double high-five with France forward Kylian Mbappe, who had a shot saved a minute earlier.

bpanews_84b7f192-33ea-41a4-8911-595a6028e119_embedded237584990
One protester greeted France’s Kylian Mbappe (Aaron Chown/PA)

“Hello everyone from the Luzhniki field, it’s great here,” the group said on Twitter, and released a statement calling for the freeing of political prisoners, an end to “illegal arrests” of protesters and to “allow political competition” in Russia.

Their statement also referenced the case of Oleg Sentsov, a vocal opponent of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, who was sentenced in 2015 to 20 years for conspiracy to commit terror acts.

He denies the charges and has been on a hunger strike since mid-May.

US President Donald Trump, heading to Finland for talks with Vladimir Putin, tweeted his congratulations to Putin and Russia for putting on a “truly great” World Cup.

Putin was watching the game alongside his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and Fifa president Gianni Infantino.

The protest was briefly shown on international TV broadcasts, even though Fifa policy is usually to cut away from field invasions.

The group said the police uniforms symbolised how Russian police’s actions fall short of their “heavenly” depiction in literature and called for reforms.

It was not clear if they used the uniforms as a ruse to enter the Luzhniki Stadium amid tight security.

“The citizens in question were taken to the local police station,” the Moscow branch of the Russian Interior Ministry said, without providing further details.

France won the match 4-2.

A video circulated on Russian social media after the match appeared to show two of the protesters, still in police uniforms, being harshly interrogated at a police station.

The Internet TV channel Dozhd identified one of them as Pyotr Verzilov, one of the group’s most prominent members.

Under barking queries from a man off camera, Verzilov says: “I am for Russia, just like you – if you are for Russia.”

“I sometimes wish it was 1937,” the man off screen says, referring to the year in which Stalinist purges were at their height.

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph