Putin cancels concert so Russia has enough ‘rest’ for Euro 2016 opener

  • AFP, Marseille
  • Updated: Jun 11, 2016 15:46 IST
Russia's coach Leonid Slutsky (C) watches his players during a training session at the Velodrome Stadium in Marseille on the eve of the match. (AFP)

Russia have pulled out all the stops in their bid to beat Group B rivals England in their Euro 2016 opener on Saturday in Marseille, asking president Vladimir Putin to help cancel a concert near their team hotel.

While the Stade de France in Paris rocked to the hits of superstar DJ David Guetta on Friday, Marseille’s fan zone -- a venue with a capacity of 80,000 -- was set to groove to the sounds of 70s disco legend Cerrone.

But when the Russian delegation realised how close the venue was to their hotel, panic set in.

Calls were made all the way to Russian premier Putin, who stepped in to make sure the national side were given a peaceful night’s sleep ahead of their Group B opener against the Three Lions at the Stade Velodrome.

The mayor of Marseille, Jean-Claude Gaudin, told AFP: “Since the Russian players even called Putin to make sure there wouldn’t be too much noise, we respected their request.”

City officials announced the cancellation shortly after 11pm (2100 GMT) on Friday.

“Given the proximity of the Marseille fan zone to the Russian team hotel, a decision has been taken to cancel the concert,” said a brief statement by Marseille city officials.

It confirmed the decision was taken “to allow Russia’s players to rest ahead of their opening game of Euro 2016 tomorrow (Saturday) against England at the Stade Velodrome.

“Cerrone perfectly understands the situation, and has given assurances that he will return to Marseille to give a concert on July 10, the night of the final,” added the statement.

Disgruntled fans may not have danced the night away, but their disappointment was tempered by seeing the hosts make a winning start with a 2-1 victory over Romania in Paris.

“The most important thing is that France won tonight,” said Gaudin.

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