France to kick out 20 Russian football fans

Groups of supporters clash 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 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

MARSEILLE • A Russian far-right agitator was among 20 football fans identified for expulsion from France yesterday as the city of Lens went into lockdown ahead of England's Euro 2016 match against Wales.

Amid diplomatic tensions over the case, Mr Alexander Shprygin, who heads Russia's football supporters' association, was among the fans to be expelled following violence at the England-Russia match in Marseille.

"The French authorities say they have taken this decision for security reasons because they consider that the supporters waiting to be expelled are a potential threat," the association said in a statement.

French police swooped on a group of 43 Russian fans, including Mr Shprygin, in southern France on Tuesday and carried out identity checks as part of the investigation into the clashes.

Three of the Russian supporters were tried in Marseille yesterday and jailed for up to two years, the first from their country to face justice for their role in the trouble last Saturday. The French authorities said the other 20 supporters in the group are to be freed.

The arrest of the Russians turned into a diplomatic incident on Wednesday when Moscow summoned France's ambassador in protest.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described the arrests as "absolutely unacceptable" and warned that an "anti-Russian" mood could even damage relations between Russia and France.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said yesterday that Russia will blacklist Russian and foreign soccer hooligans ahead of the 2018 World Cup, which it is hosting, Tass news agency reported.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2016, with the headline 'France to kick out 20 Russian football fans'. Print Edition | Subscribe