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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Unruly Fans Cast Ugly Hue on Soccer Season

With the Russian soccer league reaching its climax this weekend, hooliganism is emerging as an ugly sidelight to an otherwise successful season.

Alania Vladikavkaz from the north Caucasus and Spartak Moscow, even on points at the top of the league table, are the two teams still in the running for the championship this weekend.

But tempers have run high, and more than 55 people were injured -- one of them critically -- in an incident Friday when 500 angry soccer fans battled with police in a town near Moscow. Police in the town of Selyatino, 50 kilometers south of Moscow, fired in the air to try to restore order after fans from Moscow club CSKA went on the rampage at the end of a game their club lost, 3-1.

According to television footage over the weekend, drunken fans were driven from the pitch into the woods that surround the town where the game was transferred because CSKA's home ground in Moscow is under reconstruction. The fans returned with reinforcements to wreak havoc in the town, smashing car windows in a brawl that left 25 policemen and 30 supporters wounded.

This is not the only example of soccer hooliganism in Russia this season.

Spectators were kept out of a home game for Rotor Volgograd in September because fans had hurled bottles and stones at Dinamo Moscow players. In May, the Samara team was banned from playing at home for three matches because fans had stoned a bus of players and officials from the Spartak Moscow club.

"We are concerned with this latest outbreak of violence," Alexander Tukmanov, vice president of the Russian Football Union, said Monday.

"There have been a few cases of such outbreaks this season. Even though it may look like random violence at