Crowd trouble erupts even as Uefa gets tough

Hungarian fans clashing with stewards ahead of their country's match against Iceland yesterday in Marseille. Witnesses said the stewards had refused to let two fan groups separated by a security barrier into the same section.
Hungarian fans clashing with stewards ahead of their country's match against Iceland yesterday in Marseille. Witnesses said the stewards had refused to let two fan groups separated by a security barrier into the same section. PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS • Crowd trouble erupted at Euro 2016 again yesterday in a Hungarian section of the Marseille stadium before the country's match against Iceland.

Fans attacked stewards who had refused to let two groups of fans separated by a security barrier into the same section, witnesses said.

At press time, French riot police had reportedly quelled the trouble.

Earlier, Uefa had hit the Croatia and Turkey federations with disciplinary procedures, following flare-throwing incidents at matches as the Croatian press raged at its "shameful" fans.

Croatian fans hurled flares onto the pitch in the 86th minute of the 2-2 draw with the Czech Republic in Saint Etienne on Friday, while Turkish fans let off flares after their 3-0 defeat by Spain in Nice.

European football's governing body (Uefa) said Croatia was accused of crowd disturbances, racist behaviour, setting off fireworks and throwing objects. It also accused Turkey of a pitch invasion, throwing objects and setting off fireworks.

Croatia's coach Ante Cacic called the country's fans, who also fought among themselves in the chaos, "sports terrorists" after the incidents, which caused the game to be halted for four minutes.

A steward narrowly avoided injury when one of the flares exploded as he was clearing it from the pitch.

The country's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic described the violent fans as "enemies of Croatia".

Less than a week after Russian fans tried to attack their English rivals inside Marseille's stadium, the flare incidents heaped new problems on the tournament.

"Ashamed Croatia!" read the front-page headline of the country's top-selling Vecernji list paper. Croatia were leading 2-1 but after the stoppage, the Czechs scored a penalty to force a draw.

"I hope these people are identified and punished," said Cacic. "These people are really scary, that is why I call them hooligans. These are not fans, these are sports terrorists."

Croatia's football federation (HNS) said it had warned Uefa and French police that hooligans were planning to disrupt the match.

Miroslav Markovic, the HNS official in charge of security, also slammed the Croatian authorities for failing for years to tackle the problem. "Inefficacy and lack of will to at least start resolving the problem incited the hooligans to continue with such acts," he said.

Some 20 Russian supporters, including Far Right agitator Alexander Shprygin, were expelled from France yesterday for their involvement in last Saturday's violence.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 19, 2016, with the headline 'Crowd trouble erupts even as Uefa gets tough'. Print Edition | Subscribe