Euro 2016

Russia's Euro fate in the hands of its fans

Uefa has given Russia's soccer team a suspended disqualification and a fine following its fans' involvement in violent clashes against English fans in Marseille on Saturday.
Russian supporters, some brandishing a Serbian flag, chanting before the 1-1 draw against England last Saturday. Russia will be expelled if there is more crowd trouble.
Russian supporters, some brandishing a Serbian flag, chanting before the 1-1 draw against England last Saturday. Russia will be expelled if there is more crowd trouble.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Suspended disqualification would result in expulsion in the event of further violence

PARIS • Russia could be thrown out of Euro 2016 if their fans cause further trouble inside a stadium, after Uefa imposed a suspended disqualification and a €150,000 (S$227,000) fine on the Russian Football Union (RFU) yesterday.

Masked Russia supporters charged at England fans, punching and kicking them, after the final whistle of the 1-1 Group B draw in Marseille on Saturday.

Russia's fans were also involved in violent clashes with England supporters in the port city before and after the match.

"Charges relating to crowd disturbances, use of fireworks and racist behaviour had been brought against the RFU," Uefa, European football's governing body, said in a statement, adding its ethics committee had imposed a suspended disqualification and fine.

"Such suspension will be lifted if incidents of a similar nature (crowd disturbances) happen inside the stadium at any of the remaining matches of the Russian team during the tournament."

Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told the R-Sport news agency that Russia, who have been chosen to stage the 2018 World Cup, would not appeal against the sanction.

"This decision (to fine Russia) was pre-determined. There was the decision of the executive committee. Now they just confirmed this decision," he said.

"The punishment is excessive, but we cannot influence it. The fine is enormous as the Russian Football Union is a non-commercial organisation. There is no sense to appeal. But what (has) the team to do with that? It is not guilty."

Russian striker Artem Dzyuba immediately responded that the English fans were no angels and equally to blame.

He also criticised the British media for its coverage of the incidents in Marseille, claiming it was politically motivated and aimed at stripping Russia of its hosting rights for the 2018 World Cup.

Russia's coach Leonid Slutsky also criticised the "unethical" behaviour of England fans and said it was unfair to blame only the Russians.

"We are sure that we are not going to be kicked out. There is not going to be any injustice," he said. "We are sure our supporters will not give any reasons to disqualify our team."

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said yesterday that some fans would be deported, after a group of Russia supporters was detained near Cannes.

Russian far-fight figure Alexander Shprygin, who is the head of a Russian football supporters group, was among the Russian fans stopped by the police.

He tweeted "this is a circus" as French police surrounded a coach containing the fans. "We are the official group of Russian fans!"

While yesterday's sanctions relate to incidents inside stadiums, European football's governing body warned last Sunday that it could throw England or Russia out of the tournament "irrespective of any decisions taken by the independent disciplinary bodies relating to incidents inside the stadium" if violence continues in areas outside.

Russia face Slovakia in Group B in Lille today, while England take on Wales in neighbouring Lens tomorrow.

Security has been beefed up for the two games, Uefa said.

"We will implement additional corrective measures for the games coming up in Lens and Lille and we hope that those measures will be sufficient to avoid any other crowd trouble during the matches," a spokesman said.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2016, with the headline 'Russia's Euro fate in the hands of its fans'. Print Edition | Subscribe