Football: Tear gas used for second successive night as England fans clash with rivals

People react to tear gas thrown by French police during a gathering by England supporters in Marseille, on June 10, 2016.
People react to tear gas thrown by French police during a gathering by England supporters in Marseille, on June 10, 2016.PHOTO: AFP
French police being deployed as England fans gather in Marseille, on June 10, 2016, ahead of England's Euro 2016 football match against Russia.
French police being deployed as England fans gather in Marseille, on June 10, 2016, ahead of England's Euro 2016 football match against Russia.PHOTO: AFP
A man is arrested by riot police in Marseille, on June 10, 2016, ahead of England's Euro 2016 football match against Russia.
A man is arrested by riot police in Marseille, on June 10, 2016, ahead of England's Euro 2016 football match against Russia.PHOTO: AFP

AFP - Two nights of tear gas, broken bottles and beer-bloated football fans on Marseille's Vieux Port came as a stark reminder to European Championship organisers that old habits die hard.

France has been on the lookout for potential terrorists, but old-fashioned hooligans opened hostilities at the month-long tournament.

Saturday's England-Russia match was one of five labelled "high risk" for fan trouble by French authorities. Even a multi-national police intelligence operation could not stop the trouble.

 
 

About 250 England fans fought French youths and later clashed with French police on Thursday night on the seafront of the Mediterranean city. Four police were among seven injured.

Twenty-four hours later, at the same venue and after a few more beers, French police had to separate scores of England and Russian fans.

Bottles and other objects were hurled at French police who responded with tear gas. Some fans just sat on the pavement finishing their drinks in the white clouds of swirling gas.

Seven fans were arrested, police said.

The night ended with hundreds of boozed-up and bare-chested fans stood, beer glasses in hand, staring down French CRS riot police on the other side of the street.

 

"We are really disappointed by the scenes of disorder in Marseille yesterday evening and condemn such behaviour," said the English Football Association in a statement calling for "respectful" behaviour.

British statistics indicate that football hooliganism is on the rise again. The British National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) says that arrests for football-related trouble have been increasing for the past two years.

The hooligans "have become much more sophisticated and more like organised crime groups," said NCIS spokesman Mark Steels.