Belfast Telegraph

Pussy Riot behind pitch invasion at World Cup

By James Ellingworth

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's goalkeeper saved from Kylian Mbappe in the 51st minute, four people emerged from the other end of the field.

One made it to the centre circle.

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 President Vladimir Putin in 2012 that resulted in two members being jailed for nearly two years.

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

The four, three women and a man, who charged on to the field in the 52nd minute 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 Mbappe, who had a shot saved a minute earlier.

"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, an opponent of Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, who was sentenced in 2015 to 20 years for conspiracy to commit terror acts.

Belfast Telegraph

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