France bans alcohol near Euro 2016 venues

Fans throwing objects at riot police during clashes between English and Russian supporters at Marseille's Vieux Port last Friday, the eve of their teams' first-round match. The unrest last Saturday, which left more than 30 people injured, prompted Ue
Fans throwing objects at riot police during clashes between English and Russian supporters at Marseille's Vieux Port last Friday, the eve of their teams' first-round match. The unrest last Saturday, which left more than 30 people injured, prompted Uefa to warn Russia and England that they risked being thrown out of the tournament if there was any repeat of the clashes.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Move follows three days of drunken violence among football fans in Marseille

PARIS • The French government has banned alcohol near Euro 2016 venues and fan zones after three days of drunken violence among fans in the southern city of Marseille.

"I have asked for all necessary measures to be taken to prohibit the sale, consumption and transport of alcoholic drinks in sensitive areas on match days and the day before, and on days when fan zones are open," Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said .

The ban will include public areas, shops and off-licences, or bottle shops, he said late on Sunday.

Senior local officials can also ban bars and cafes from serving drinks on their terraces in containers that can be used as missiles.

The alcohol ban was imposed a day after Russian and English supporters - as well as French locals - clashed in pitched battles in Marseille ahead of their teams' first-round encounter in the worst violence seen at an international tournament since the 1998 World Cup.

The unrest last Saturday (local time), which left more than 30 people injured, prompted Uefa to warn both Russia and England that they risked being thrown out of the tournament if there was any repeat of the clashes.

"The events which took place in Marseille... are unacceptable. Unacceptable for the authorities, unacceptable for society, unacceptable for football lovers," Mr Cazeneuve said.

More than 1,200 riot police were deployed to quell the unrest, which began when hundreds of supporters - many of them drunk - began pelting one another with bottles and chairs in Marseille's Vieux Port area.

There was more trouble inside the Stade Velodrome at the end of the 1-1 draw, when Russian fans charged into an English section of the ground.

The head of Britain's Euro 2016 policing operation said the Russians wore gum shields, martial arts gloves and carried knives.

Assistant chief constable Mark Roberts told the Guardian that "a small minority" of England fans were out to cause trouble at the match, but there were hundreds of "Russian troublemakers".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2016, with the headline 'France bans alcohol near Euro 2016 venues'. Print Edition | Subscribe