Arsenal fans warned to be careful on Europa League trip to Moscow
Arsenal fans travelling to Moscow for the Europa League quarter-final next month have been warned of potential anti-British sentiment or harassment.
With tensions between the British government and their counterparts in Russia escalating following the nerve-agent attack on a former Russian spy in Salisbury, Arsenal were paired against CSKA Moscow in the Europa League quarter-finals draw yesterday.
An Arsenal spokesman said that "the safety of our fans is always a top priority" and stressed that they would be working with the relevant authorities in London and Moscow ahead of the game.
The last match between Arsenal and CSKA, a Champions League group-stage game at the Emirates in 2006, was attended by the man suspected of the murder of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. Traces of a radioactive substance were subsequently discovered at the ground.
Prime Minister Theresa May has expelled 23 Russian diplomats as part of a range of measures that also include a boycott by ministers and the British Royal family of the forthcoming World Cup.
Russia has rejected suggestions that it was involved in the poisoning and its foreign minister has said that British diplomats will "certainly" be expelled in response.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is now advising that "due to heightened political tensions... you should be aware of the possibility of anti-British sentiment or harassment".
Arsenal will play the first leg of the tie on April 5 at the Emirates before travelling to Moscow the following week.
Manager Arsene Wenger has always been mindful of the added journey times going to Russia but may also be relieved to have avoided Europa League favourites Atletico Madrid.
The Europa League represents the only chance of silverware this season and the last realistic opportunity to qualify for the Champions League.