Playing five-times winners Bayern Munich in the Champions League should have been one of the highlights of CSKA Moscow’s season but unfortunately for the Russian champions, they will have to play the Group E contest behind closed doors.
CSKA have been ordered to play Tuesday’s match in an empty arena by European soccer’s governing body UEFA following the poor behaviour of their fans against Viktoria Plzen last December.
After being thrashed 5-1 by AS Roma in their opening match two weeks ago, CSKA now have the daunting task of taking on European heavyweights Bayern without the backing of their boisterous supporters.
The last time they met at the Khimki Arena, Bayern were emphatic 3-1 winners at the same stage a year ago.
Prior to last season’s 1-0 semi-final first leg loss at Real Madrid, Bayern were undefeated in 10 UEFA Champions League away games.
Meanwhile, CSKA have won just one and lost five of their last seven UEFA competition home games in Moscow.
Russian supporters clashed with police at the Sept. 17 match against Roma in the Italian capital. Last season CSKA Moscow fans were found guilty of racist chants during matches against Manchester City and Viktoria Plzen.
“We are actively working with our supporters, and we are seeing the results in Russia, as our fans have practically stopped using flares at games,” Babayev said in an interview with the Moscow Times.
“However, these agreements are not working during European matches. The supporters are being too emotional and are wanting to prove a point.
“The situation has become critical in recent times. What happened in Rome was just unacceptable. This is a massive problem. We are expecting to be seriously punished by UEFA.”
CSKA supporters fought running battles with Roma fans before the Group E match in Italy.
Once the match got underway, the Russian fans began to throw flares towards the Roma supporters. They also tried to force their way into areas of the stadium where Roma fans were sitting, which led to clashes with stewards and police.
Rome police say 13 stewards and four police officers were injured. CSKA lost the match 5-1.
“We have to introduce tougher measures, which would include banning orders from matches and opening criminal cases against those who cause trouble,” Babayev said.
CSKA will play their first home Champions League match this season against Bayern Munich on Sept. 30 behind closed doors as punishment for their fans’ behavior last season.
The next Champions League home match at which CSKA will be allowed to have home supporters in the stadium will be on Oct. 21 against Manchester City.
Babayev is desperate there should be no repeat of last season’s incidents when Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure was racially abused by sections of the CSKA crowd.
“We can’t close the mouths of 20,000 fans,” Babayev said, “but we can take steps in order that such things will not happen.
“CSKA are not in the Champions League for a second year in a row to play matches behind closed doors, without the support of our fans both at home and away.”
“We are already standing at the brink. I hope our fans will not push us over the edge.”