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Arsene Wenger has claimed football can play a “positive role” in solving the diplomatic crisis ahead of this summer’s World Cup finals.
Arsenal are the first English team to play in Russia since the cold war resumed between the two countries and Wenger’s men arrived for their Europa League tie amid heightened security fears.
The spotlight will be on the clash with CSKA Moscow but less than 300 Arsenal fans have travelled from London even though the club were offered in excess of 3,000 tickets and normally get a much larger following in European games.
Fewer England fans are expected to go to the World Cup this summer – although the crunch group game with Belgium is already oversubscribed – and tensions are running high.
But Gunners boss Wenger said: “Sport can always play a positive role in life and between countries as well. That is why football is a good opportunity always to facilitate relations.
“I am convinced that tomorrow night will be absolutely normal and the World Cup will be perfectly well organised. I have no problem about that. But maybe sport will have a more active role during this period than ever.
“On that front, there will be no problem. We have been well welcomed here. We had no problems to come here. I don’t think that will affect the game. As well, we are not really informed what is right and wrong so it is best for us to stay out of that.
“I don’t think there will be a problem. We had many Russian fans in London. There was no problem. Why should it be different here?
“It will be no problem we have been welcomed here. Have no problems to come here- don’t think that will affect the game. Not really informed what is right and wrong. Best for us to stay out of that.
“I don’t think it will be a problem many Russian fans in London – no problem. Why should it be different here. I don’t think that will be a problem.”
There have been tighter restrictions on visas for fans, even Arsenal’s stars took longer than usual to get through the passport queues and were greeted with around 100 fans at the airport. English fans have been warned to expect “anti-British feeling” from locals but there was no hint of it around Moscow.
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