Euro 2016

UEFA gives Russia last chance over fan violence

2016-06-14 18:10
Euro 2016 (AP Photo)

Paris -UEFA told Russia on Tuesday it would be kicked out of the European Championship if its fans cause more stadium trouble, while France expelled a group of Russian supporters.

Europe's governing body declared Russia responsible for the fans who charged into a section occupied by England supporters at the Russia-England game in Marseille on Saturday and for racist chanting and fireworks fired during the game.

It ordered the "suspended disqualification" of the team and fined the Russian Football Union 150,000 euros ($170,000).

Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said Moscow accepted the UEFA ruling.

"We will comply with UEFA's decision. What other position can there be?" he said, before later describing the punishment as "excessive".

With concerns running high about violence at Russia's next game against Slovakia in Lille on Wednesday, French authorities rounded up a group of Russian supporters in a hotel on Marseille on Tuesday.

They included Alexander Shprygin, a far-right figure who is head of a Russian football supporters group and works as an aide to nationalist politician Igor Lebedev.

Shprygin tweeted "this is a circus" as police surrounded a coach containing the fans. "We are the official group of Russian fans!," he protested.

The group of around 40 supporters was seen being taken away in police vans and some will be expelled from France, authorities said.

The fans were believed to have been intending to travel to Lille, which is now the focus of concerns for security chiefs because Russian fans could come into contact with English supporters as their nation is playing Wales in nearby Lens on Thursday.

English football chief Greg Dyke said in a letter to UEFA: "We have serious concerns around the security arrangements for the city (Lille) in the next few days."

He called for an urgent meeting of the Lille and Lens police authorities to draw up an "effective" security plan.

As many as 50,000 English and Welsh fans will come to Lens, local authorities said, basing their figures on travel bookings.

UEFA's disciplinary commission warned Russia that it had to bring its fans under control.

"This disqualification is suspended until the end of the tournament," UEFA said.

"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," it added.

After the 1-1 draw in Marseille, Russian fans crossed security barriers inside the Stade Velodrome and attacked England fans. Dozens of English supporters, including women and children, fled the violence.

French prosecutors have said 150 Russian supporters who were "extremely well-prepared" and "extremely violent" evaded arrest in Marseille.

UEFA had already warned Russia and England that it could disqualify them if there was more trouble. But only Russia was charged over the conduct of its fans.

FA chief Dyke said security in the Marseille stadium on Saturday had been "unacceptable" and protested to UEFA that a distinction should be drawn between the two sets of fans as only Russia have been charged over their conduct.

England captain Wayne Rooney and coach Roy Hodgson have already made a video plea for the country's fans to avoid putting their country's participation in jeopardy.

"I'm appealing to you to stay out of trouble," Hodgson said. "We really desperately want to stay in the competition."

British authorities have also sent extra police to France.

The Russian Football Union said its top officials will meet with supporters in France on Tuesday to urge them not to cause violence in Lille.

They will tell the fans there is a "categorical intolerance of all types of violations".

"Hooligan stunts, racism, as well as all sorts of discrimination must be eradicated," the Union said on its website.

On Monday, 10 men -- six Britons, three French and one Austrian -- were found guilty of violence around the England-Russia match and given jail terms.

A British man in his fifties is still in a serious but stable condition in hospital after being attacked with an iron bar.

The murder Monday of two French police officials by a known radical claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group has raised tensions in France.

The suspect, Larossi Abballa, 25, who was shot dead by police near Paris, called for Euro 2016 to be "turned into a graveyard" in a Facebook video filmed at the scene of the murders, according to a jihadist expert.

More than 90,000 police and security guards are guarding the championship.

On Tuesday, riot police clashed with protesters in Paris who were demonstrating against the government's labour market reforms.

Read more on:    euro 2016  |  soccer

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