England ‘could be thrown out of Euro 2016 if violence continues’

Local youths run after being chased by England supporters in downtown Marseille after they clashed ahead of Saturday's European Championship match between England and Russia at the Stade Velodrome.(AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Local youths run after being chased by England supporters in downtown Marseille after they clashed ahead of Saturday's European Championship match between England and Russia at the Stade Velodrome.(AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

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England could be disqualified from Euro 2016 if there is a repeat of the violence which saw football fans fight running battles on the streets of Marseille, Uefa has warned.

The behaviour of England and Russia fans before and after their 1-1 draw at the Stade Velodrome was “unacceptable”, the executive committee of European football’s governing body said.

That has to be up there with the worst experience EVER at an away game! Teargassed for no reason, caged and treated like animals! Shocking!

Rebekah Vardy, the wife of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy

It opened disciplinary proceedings against the Russian Football Union (RFU) on Sunday for alleged crowd disturbances, racist behaviour and the setting off of fireworks by its fans during the game on Saturday night.

Uefa has no power to take action against England for fans’ behaviour in the streets of the city, where police used tear gas as Three Lions supporters fought with Russians and local French hooligans over three consecutive days.

However, in a statement, it appealed to both country’s football bodies to urge supporters to “behave in a responsible and respectful manner”, adding: “The Uefa Executive Committee has warned both football associations that - irrespective of any decisions taken by the independent disciplinary bodies relating to incidents inside the stadium - it will not hesitate to impose additional sanctions on the Football Association (FA) and the Russian Football Union (RFU), including the potential disqualification of their respective teams from the tournament, should such violence occur again.”

A Downing Street spokeswoman said six British nationals remain in hospital following the violence in Marseille and Home Secretary Theresa May has spoken to her counterpart in Paris, interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve, about the violence disorder.

The spokeswoman said, while UK officers have been in France since before the tournament began, they had offered to send more “to support the security operation around the match in Lens”.

She added: “UK police will be assisting the French with their post-incident investigations and supporting them to gather evidence, including evidence against any England fans involved in the disorder.

“The Home Secretary has spoken to her French counterpart, Bernard Cazeneuve, the interior minister, to continue to co-ordinate and work closely together on the response. And the Foreign Office has been in touch with the Russian authorities about our concerns.”

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko has also condemned the violence.

England fans were seen fleeing the stands shortly after the final whistle was blown as balaclava-clad thugs punched through a line of stewards before attacking bystanders.

The incident raised serious questions about French security at a time when the country is on high alert after November’s terrorist attacks on Paris.

The scenes from Marseille were described by the FA as “terrible” as it called on the local authorities to deal with the perpetrators swiftly.

World football body Fifa also condemned the violence, with a statement saying it was “wholly unacceptable to see such shameful scenes around football matches perpetrated by a minority of idiotic troublemakers, who have nothing to do with football and its true fans”.

England fan Sam Blackwell was at the Stade Velodrome on Saturday night and told the BBC that security had been “very poor” with stewards left to cope on their own for five to 10 minutes before help arrived.

He said: “Even before we got in the stadium we were surprised how slack the searches were going into the ground, because they were almost non-existent. It was just a quick pat down and then they let you through.

“If they were doing them properly how would the Russian fans have got the fireworks and the flares in?”

He added: “I would say it was very poor security given all I have been reading in the press about how it was going to be at its highest because of the risks that there were from other threats. I thought it was very poor.”

England fans were seen fleeing from Marseille’s Stade Velodrome shortly after the final whistle was blown on the 1-1 draw with Russia as Balaclava-clad thugs punched through a line of stewards before attacking bystanders.

The disorder at the 67,000-capacity ground came after a third day of violent clashes between rival fans and locals on the streets of Marseille left one England fan critically ill in hospital and up to 20 others hurt.

Kevin Miles, chief executive of the Football Supporters’ Federation, confirmed this fan was the man who had been seen getting resuscitated as he lay on the street.

The scenes from Marseille were described by the FA as “terrible” as it called on the local authorities to deal with the perpetrators swiftly.

Barbaric footage emerged of fans from Russia and England marauding through the streets, with people being punched and kicked as they lay on the floor.

The streets were carpeted with glass and chairs were seen smeared with blood as the police struggled to contain the violence.

There were also reports of attacks on Northern Ireland football fans by local “ultras” in Nice, where the side were due to play Poland.

The incident raised serious questions about French security at a time when the country is on high alert after November’s terrorist attacks on Paris.

Spectators reported seeing stewards in the ground at the end of the game, but no police officers.

Just before the end of the game white flares were lit in the Russian end, followed by a green rocket which went over England goalkeeper Joe Hart’s goal. This was followed by a bang and then a red firework.

Earlier water cannon and tear gas were used as fist fights and bottle-throwing broke out between the England supporters and their Russian and French counterparts in Marseille’s Old Port.

Rebekah Vardy, the new wife of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, tweeted that she was caught up in the “horrific” violence before kick-off.

She wrote: “That has to be up there with the worst experience EVER at an away game! Teargassed for no reason, caged and treated like animals! Shocking!”

Julian King, British ambassador to France, tweeted: “Number of Brits in hospital overnight. Consular following closely with French authorities.”

Speaking at a post-match conference, FA spokesman Mark Whittle said the day’s events were regrettable.

“The FA is very disappointed about the terrible scenes of disorder and of course condemns such behaviour.

“It is now in the hands of the relevant authorities to identify those involved in trouble and deal with them appropriately and quickly.

“At this time the FA urges England supporters to act in a respectful manner and support England in the right way.”

A Uefa spokesman said: “Uefa expresses its utter disgust for the violent clashes that occurred in the city centre of Marseille, and its serious concern for the incidents at the end of the match inside Stade Velodrome.

“This kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable and has no place in football.

“Uefa acknowledges that there were segregation issues at Stade Velodrome and will implement corrective measures to strengthen the deployment of security personnel at stadiums, in close collaboration with local authorities.”

England fans were seen fleeing the stands shortly after the final whistle was blown as balaclava-clad thugs punched through a line of stewards before attacking bystanders.

England have avoided any charges and Uefa confirmed before kick-off that incidents outside the Stade Velodrome perimeter fell outside its remit.

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