Vladimir, a Moscow public relations manager who considers violence a sport, returned Sunday from the latest battleground at the European Championship in France and declared “the English are girls.”
This comes after violent clashes erupted in the streets of Marseille before and after the Group B match between England and Russia on 11 June that ended in a 1–1 draw which left dozens of fans seriously injured.
Uncaring of the disciplinary proceedings started by the governing body Uefa against the Russian Football Union for what it described as “totally unacceptable” scenes at the game, including racist behaviour and launching of flares, Vladimir claims that “it doesn’t matter which city fans come from or which team they support. It’s important that we’re all from Russia. We are going to fight the English.”
Many hooligans have little interest in the games and will not care if Uefa disqualifies them, he added and estimated about 150 of Russia’s ‘strongest’ hooligans flew to Marseille for the day for the England-Russia match.
Russian hardcore fans give their gangs English names such as ‘mob’ or ‘crew’ but consider themselves bitter rivals of English fans. “The English always say they are the main football hooligans. We went to show that the English are girls,” Vladimir said.
He contrasted Russian hooligans with England fans. ‘Fans or hooligans from Russia are mainly younger, aged 20-30 and at home most of them are into sports while England fans are big older men who drink a lot of beer.’
He also stressed that while ‘the English use chairs and bottles (to fight), the Russian style is only fists’. Using weapons ‘causes a lot of unnecessary injuries,’ he said. ‘For us it’s like sport.’
‘We don’t have a desire to kill or injure. There is a desire to show our strength.’
He said he would only go back to France if Russia play in the final and predicted that the other matches will be ‘a lot calmer’.