Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday called the football hooligan violence at Euro 2016 a “disgrace” but questioned how Russian fans could have overpowered a far larger contingent of English supporters.
“The fighting between Russian fans with the English, that is a disgrace,” he said at Russia’s annual economic forum in Saint Petersburg. “But I truly don’t understand how 200 of our fans could beat up several thousand English.”
Putin said he regretted violence at the Euro 2016 football tournament and pledged that Moscow would work to try to stamp out hooliganism.
French authorities have said about 150 Russian fans took part in serious violence around the England-Russia game in Marseilles last weekend.
Putin also said it was important that French authorities treated anyone caught making trouble equally.
France sentenced three Russian fans to prison and planned to deport 20 others next week for their role in the violence in Marseille that marred Russia’s opening match against England.
Among the three Russians given prison terms is Alexei Erunov, the director for fan relations at leading Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow. He was sentenced to two years
Dynamo Moscow fan Nikolai Morozov also received a 12 months sentence and Sergei Gorbachev, the director of a construction company in the central Russian city of Tula, received 18 months.