Australian football fans 'confused' after Russia visa cancellation


The Football Federation of Australia says it's up to Russia to decide who they allow into the country for the World Cup after a small group of friends had their visas rejected.

While most Australian football fans appear unaffected, a small number say they’ve been left ‘gutted’ and confused after having their Fan IDs – required to enter the country and attend games at the World Cup - abruptly rejected.

Die-hard Socceroos fan Aaron Camm had his trip planned out after receiving his Fan-ID in late March, having budgeted at least $5000 on flights and booking accommodation.

All spectators require a Fan ID obtained through Russian organisers in order to access stadiums. The IDs are also tied to visas to get into Russia.

But a week ago Mr Camm says he was sent a “weird” email from organisers informing him the authorisation had been rejected.

He then called the Fan-ID call centre and an operator confirmed the news.

“I was gutted really,” he told SBS News.

“But also a bit puzzled, I’m like, ‘Why me?’ If there is a legitimate reason for security purposes or something like that – why me? I’m a fan with a disability.”

Mr Camm has arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, which affects the health of his joints and muscles and requires the support of a wheelchair.

An exchange with the Fan-ID account that Aaron Camm says he received.
An exchange with the Fan-ID account that Aaron Camm says he received.

Mr Camm says four of his friends in Australia and overseas have had the same issues.

The Football Federation of Australia said there was little it could do on behalf of the men.

"FFA will liaise with the Department of Foreign Affairs but essentially this is a decision by the Russian authorities about who they allow into the country for the World Cup," a FFA spokesman said. 

The Green & Gold Army tour group said no one in their contingency had experienced a problem. 

“None of the Socceroos fans (numbering in the hundreds) who are travelling with the Green & Gold Army to Russia have had FanIDs cancelled,” a spokesman told SBS News.

“We are looking forward to the event and found Russia and the people we are working with to be welcoming and fully prepared for the football’s global showpiece.”

'Never been in trouble'

Mr Camm says he doesn’t know why they’ve been affected.

“I just can’t think of any incidents I would have been involved in is a reason why anything like this could have come up,” he said.

“The only thing that links us up is we’re a bunch of mates who’ve all gone on away trips together.

Mr Camm was told to email his appeal for more information to the Fan-ID organisers.

He’s since been trying to get a tourist visa through the Russian consulate.

“Up until my flight leaves on the 12th of June I will be trying everything in my power to get myself on the plane. I still haven’t given up.

“Hopefully if that does come through I can at least soak up the atmosphere.”

His friend Reuben Garlett also received the same rejection notice in an email on the same day, before having it verbally confirmed through the Fan-ID hotline.

“I couldn’t really believe it - I thought it was a scam or a computer glitch,” Mr Garlett told SBS News.

“I was kind of shocked because I’ve never been in trouble, like really ever.”

SBS News has tried to contact the Russian consulate in Sydney for comment.

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