France vs. Croatia World Cup Final Interrupted by 4 Pitch Invaders

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2018

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JULY 15:  A pitch invader runs towards Kylian Mbappe of France during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final between France and Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 15, 2018 in Moscow, Russia.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

The 2018 FIFA World Cup final was momentarily interrupted when four pitch invaders entered the field of play at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday:

The Associated Press @AP

BREAKING: Four people run onto field during the second half of the World Cup final.

A tournament previously free of such incidents found its showpiece game between France and Croatia disrupted by the unwanted guests, who were quickly chased down and escorted away by security:

Indy Football @IndyFootball

The #WorldCupFinal takes a turn... https://t.co/53bzu4H6zt

The incident occurred with France ahead 2-1 thanks to an own goal from Mario Mandzukic and an Antoine Griezmann penalty that had cancelled out Ivan Perisic's equaliser.

Afterward, protest punk band Pussy Riot claimed responsibility for the incident, via James Ellingworth of the Associated Press (h/t the Washington Post).

Ellingworth's report gave more details on the motives of the group:

“Hello everyone from the Luzhniki field, it’s great here,” the group said on Twitter , and released a statement calling for the freeing of political prisoners, an end to “illegal arrests” of protesters and to “allow political competition” in Russia.

Their statement also referenced the case of Oleg Sentsov, a vocal opponent of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, who was sentenced in 2015 to 20 years for conspiracy to commit terror acts. He denies the charges and has been on a hunger strike since mid-May.

It's an unwanted blot on what has been an exemplary tournament in terms of supporter behaviour. The host nation will likely be somewhat embarrassed even though the incident was dealt with quickly:

Paul Brown @pbsportswriter

Volunteers racing around desperately trying to stop everyone in the press box taking pics of those pitch invaders... #FRACRO

The rest of the match went without incident as France pushed on to a 4-2 victory.