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'World Cup in Russia? I had to carry a gun and was attacked by racists in the street in front of my family' PLAYER'S MOSCOW HELL.

Byline: GARY ANDERSON

A BLACK footballer who played in Russia said it was a mistake to hand the country the 2018 World Cup - and told how he bought a GUN to protect himself from racists in Moscow.

Burnley star Andr Bikey said he was attacked because of the colour of his skin and lived in constant fear for his life while he played for Lokomotiv Moscow.

Sick thugs even targeted the Cameroon international while he was with his wife Marina and his mother - before Andr escaped with a transfer to then-Premiership side Reading.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Mirror, Andr, 25, expressed his shock that Vladimir Putin's corruption-mired bid was chosen for 2018 ahead of England, where he has built a happy life for his two young daughters.

He said: "I was surprised because England had a very strong bid and with Russia, there are things that need to change before 2018.

"The World Cup is supposed to bring people from different countries and different cultures together, and FIFA will have to work hard to make sure this can happen in Russia."

Even now, three years after leaving Russia, Andr finds it difficult to talk about the hatred he was subjected to on the streets of Moscow.

He said: "There was racism towards black players in the stadiums, but I was physically attacked in the street more than once.

"If someone attacked me in the street I could defend myself, but I had to take action when people were attacking me when I was with my wife and my mother.

"I had to buy a gun to protect my family.

"Life can be difficult for a black person in Russia. I hope things have changed, but I know some of the players still have problems with racism.

"I don't know if I could go back for the World Cup - I would need to know it was safe." Andr believes England, where he is raising daughters Naomie, three and Daniela, four months, would have been the ideal World Cup host.

He said: "I have been much happier here. Here I can live beside someone from another country and there is no problem.

Pe o p l e respect each other more in England."

An England fan has also told how he got a taste of the welcome in store for supporters in 2018 when he was beaten unconscious by Russian football thugs.

Doctors feared father-of-five Peter Bentall, 51, was braindamaged after he was battered and left for dead by a gang of hooligans in Moscow.

Russian fans - some with iron bars - attacked England fans in bars and metro stations and laid siege to their hotel after the 2007 England v Russia match.

Peter said he was targeted because of his accent as he went sight-seeing before the game.

He told the Sunday Mirror: "I went to Moscow with a group of eight friends - we've been all over the world following England with the official supporters' club.

"We weren't wearing England shirts or anything so we thought we would be OK to take the metro. As we came out of the station, this gang of about 20 Russians, who had been waiting outside, came running in.

"They were screaming and throwing beer bottles at us.

"The police officers in the station just watched as we were attacked. "When my friends found me I was lying unconscious under a crash barrier - two of my friends were bleeding after they had bottles smashed on their heads.

"In hospital doctors wanted to keep me in because they were worried about brain damage."

Peter discharged himself, but faced a second terrifying night in Moscow when drunk Russian fans laid siege to his hotel after the match on October 17, 2007, which England lost 2-1.

CAPTION(S):

Burnley star Andre Bikey feared for his life Russian Deputy PM with the World Cup Vladimir Putin and PM Medvedev
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:6CAME
Date:Dec 5, 2010
Words:650
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