Late last week, a Euro 2016 qualifier between Russia and Montenegro was initially suspended after Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was hit in the head with a flare tossed from the stands. The game briefly resumed but was eventually abandoned after another Russian player was hit by objects thrown from the stands, spurring a round of shoving, light slapping, and “hold me back, bro” games between the teams.
Montenegro’s coach Branko Brnovic, embarrassed by the behavior of the team’s fans, offered an apology:
“I apologize to the Russian players and staff for everything that’s happened. It is no surprise that the game was abandoned after the second incident. My players are completely distraught, all of them are at a loss for words and I also don’t know what to say after all this. We now don’t stand a chance [of qualifying] and also face a lengthy crowd ban.”
Momir Durdevac, general secretary of Montenegro’s football association, added: “We have left the impression of barbarians and this is a complete disaster. As far as I’m concerned the game should not have continued after the first-minute incident. We can only thank God that no one was seriously hurt.”
Yeah, God and poor Montenegrin throwing skills.
Everyone involved thinks that Montenegro is horrible. So it makes some sense, even beyond UEFA’s rules on abandoned games, that Russia would be awarded a win after the referee was forced to call the game due to fan nonsense. And that’s exactly what Russia has requested. The Russian Football Union believes the game should be recorded as a technical defeat for Montenegro.
As an isolated request, that’s a perfectly reasonable position. But in context, this might be another silly show of Russian aggression. That could be a problem. Let’s do some timeline math:
Late 1940s – Early 1990s: Rules are in place. Russia attempts to take everything in Europe. Chaos ensues. Russia muscles people for as long as it can and takes what it wants by force, telling everyone else to mind their damn business.
2008: Rules are in place. Russia invades Georgia. Chaos ensues. Russia takes what it wants by force and tells everyone else to mind their damn business.
2014: Rules are in place. Russia invades Ukraine. Chaos ensues. Russia takes what it wants by force and tells everyone else to mind their damn business.
2015: Rules are in place. Russia plays Montenegro. Chaos ensues. Russia demands victory and three points.
I hope you see where this is going. But if not, let me help you …
2018: Rules are in place. Russia hosts World Cup. Russia plays in the group stage. Things don’t go well. Chaos ensues. Russia demands World Cup victory. Russia takes what it wants by force and tells everyone else to mind their damn business.
Patterns. They’re important. Always keep an eye out for patterns.
Consider yourselves warned.
Also, congrats, Russia, on your 2018 World Cup victory!