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Kazan police force female fans to strip

Rubin Kazan fans light flares during their match against Spartak Moscow on Friday.

MOSCOW -- The Russian Premier League condemned the treatment of female fans who say they were strip-searched by male police officers before a match in the World Cup 2018 host city of Kazan.

Several Spartak Moscow fans say police refused to allow female fans into the stadium for Friday's match against Rubin Kazan unless they complied.

In a widely read blog post in Russia, fan Ekaterina Stepanova wrote of the "humiliation" in which female fans were singled out and "required to strip, and that includes being demanded to remove their underwear" for a search lasting up to 10 minutes.

One fan told local media she left the stadium rather than submit to the searches. Stepanova said she refused to strip but was made to wait an hour and a half before being allowed in.

League safety director Alexander Meitin criticized the "rough treatment" in comments to the R-Sport agency, adding that the league and Spartak submitted complaints.

Kazan police say all searches at the game were legal and only fans suspected of carrying contraband were searched. Spartak fans used smoke bombs during the game, the first Premier League game of the season, which Spartak won 4-0.

Police are out in force at all major soccer matches in Russia, with as many as 3,000 officers sometimes on duty at a stadium. The Russian Premier League has attempted to replace them with trained stewards employed by the clubs, although the police have resisted change.

Kazan, about 450 miles from Moscow, is one of 11 host cities for the 2018 World Cup.

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