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If violence persists Russia and England could be expelled from Euro 2016.


European soccer’s
governing body has warned the English and Russian soccer associations
that their teams could be disqualified from Euro 2016 if there is a
continuation of the fan violence that has injured several dozen people.

UEFA’s
threat came after it began disciplinary proceedings against the Russian
federation on Sunday following ugly scenes inside Marseille’s Stade
Velodrome stadium at the end of Saturday’s match between England and
Russia.

Masked Russian fans charged
at England supporters, punching and kicking them. Some England fans had
to scramble over barriers to escape.

UEFA said that it would also investigate allegations of racist behavior and the throwing of missiles and fireworks.

The
violence in the stadium followed three days of clashes between English,
Russian and French fans in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille,
drawing a strong response from riot police. [L8N1930BS] UEFA
said it was “disgusted” and would not hesitate to impose sanctions,
including “the potential disqualification of their respective teams from
the tournament, should such violence occur again”.

“This
kind of behavior is totally unacceptable and has no place in football,”
UEFA said, adding that a decision on sanctions against Russia would be
made on Tuesday.

Calling
the behavior of fans “barbaric”, French Interior Minister Bernard
Cazeneuve called for the two teams to be punished and said he had asked
the cities hosting Euro 2016 fixtures to ban the sale and consumption of
alcohol in zones where the risk of confrontation was most acute.

English
and Russian fans will almost certainly cross paths in northern France
later this week, with Russia playing Slovakia in Lille on Wednesday and
England facing Wales only 40 km (25 miles) away in Lens on Thursday.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who had
initially denied that there had been any crowd disturbance, said that
UEFA was right to investigate.

It
is the second time in as many European Championship tournaments that
the Russian federation has faced sanctions because of its fans.

Russia
was fined and given a suspended six-point deduction for its Euro 2016
qualifying campaign after fans assaulted stadium security staff and
displayed illicit banners at the 2012 tournament in Poland and Ukraine.

The British government urged calm on all sides and offered to send more police to France ahead of England’s next game.

Violence
also briefly erupted in Nice, where Northern Irish and local fans
hurled glass bottles and chairs at each other late on Saturday.

Police said they had arrested 15 people after scuffles ahead of Sunday’s game between Turkey and Croatia in Paris.

The French government rallied behind the police amid questions over tactics and security inside the stadiums.

“If
there is a failure, it is that of soccer, which is sick because some of
its fans drink excessively and fight,” Interior Ministry spokesman
Pierre-Henri Brandet said on BFM-TV.

A UEFA spokesman said that more security personnel would be deployed to segregate rival fans inside stadiums.

The tournament is
being played under a state of emergency after Islamist militants
attacked Paris in November, killing 130 people.

Further
questions over security were raised when flares and a smoke bomb were
let off at the Parc des Princes in Paris during Turkey’s match against
Croatia on Sunday. UEFA said it would not comment before it received the
referee’s match report.

In
Marseille, some English fans suggested that French riot police had been
heavy handed and quick to fire tear gas. Thirty-five people were hurt in
the fighting, including one English fan who suffered a heart attack.

Marseille
police chief Laurent Nunez told France Info radio that his force’s
response prevented “much more serious damage”. A total of 15 people,
mostly English, were arrested in the city over three days.

In
2000 UEFA threatened to kick England out of the tournament after
violence broke out between English and German fans in the Belgian cities
of Brussels and Charleroi.

French police will be under pressure to snuff out the latest fan violence.

“You
never know where a fight will erupt, so the challenge is to redeploy
forces in a very short time,” Driss Ait Youssef, a security expert, told
BFM-TV.

France has enlisted
more than 90,000 police, soldiers and private security agents nationwide
to ensure safety in the face of intelligence agency warnings of
potential militant attacks and the threat of hooliganism.
 

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