Uefa threatens Russia, England with expulsion

Groups of supporters clash in a fight at the end of the Euro 2016 group B football match between England and Russia at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on June 11.
Groups of supporters clash in a fight at the end of the Euro 2016 group B football match between England and Russia at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on June 11. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS • Uefa yesterday warned that Russia and England could be thrown out of the European Championship if their fans are involved in more violence.

The executive committee of European football's ruling body issued a public "warning" in a statement which expressed "disgust for the violent clashes which occurred in the city of Marseille" last weekend.

Dozens were hurt in three days of clashes in Marseille and at the Stade Velodrome after the England- Russia match on Saturday, which ended in a 1-1 draw. French authorities say three people remain in serious condition in hospital.

Uefa has charged Russia with crowd disturbances, racist behaviour and letting off fireworks. The result of the inquiry and sanctions will be announced tomorrow.

Uefa said there were "segregation issues" at Marseille's Stade Velodrome on Saturday and it would take steps to strengthen the deployment of security personnel at stadiums.

The British government yesterday said it was "deeply concerned" by the violence and offered to send more police to France.

As the players left the pitch at the end of the 1-1 draw, Russian fans were seen charging into a section occupied by English supporters and punches were thrown.

The violence, however, was restrained compared with the scenes before the match, when hundreds of English and Russian fans fought pitched battles in the Vieux-Port area of Marseille.

England fans said the clashes were caused by Russians.

"There were about 100 Russians. They just came out of nowhere, something was thrown and that started it all off," said an England fan who asked not to be named.

But it is unclear if the Russians are entirely to blame. Singaporean teacher Vishaal Bhardwaj, 38, who was at the match, told The Straits Times: "The Russian fans were taunted by the English for large parts of the game. When they equalised, the English fans above them hurled abuse and threw things at them. The Russians reacted.

"The English fans were disrespectful to the Russians and jeered during the Russian anthem."

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who said Uefa was "right" to investigate, yesterday criticised the behaviour of his country's fans and conceded that Uefa was likely to impose a fine.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2016, with the headline 'Uefa threatens Russia, England with expulsion'. Print Edition | Subscribe