An England fan and a Frenchman have suffered separate homophobic attacks in Moscow and St Petersburg on day one of the football World Cup in Russia.
It is reported that the Englishman was forced by five men to withdraw cash from an ATM in Moscow, before being beaten up.
In what appears to be a more serious attack in St Petersburg, a gay Frenchman has suffered severe injuries, including a broken jaw and possible brain injury.
Russian TV has confirmed the St Petersburg attack as ‘homophobic’, adding “even though the injured are homosexuals, it does not justify the monsters who beat him.”
Two men, named by police as Ismet Gaidarov, 25, and Rasul Magomedov, 24, both from Dagestan, have been arrested.
The assaults coincide with the arrest and then release of veteran human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, who was earlier detained after falling foul of anti-demonstration regulations while protesting against LGBT rights abuses.
There have long been fears that the 2018 World Cup might be plagued by homophobic incidents. While some equality laws exist, Russian society is extremely homophobic, with police frequently turning a blind eye to anti-gay, violent crime. With these incidents all taking place before the first ball had been kicked, there is now serious concern for LGBT fans at this tournament.