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FA tells England fans to be respectful, UK police blame ‘armed’ Russians

The Football Association on Sunday urged fans to be “responsible and respectful” following a Uefa threat to disqualify England from Euro 2016 over fan violence in France.

euro 2016 Updated: Jun 13, 2016 11:45 IST
Euro 2016,Euro clashes,England-Russia fans clash
Police fire water cannons to control the fighting after football fans clashed ahead of the England vs Russia Euro 2016 football match, in Marseille, France.(AP Photo)

The Football Association on Sunday urged fans to be “responsible and respectful” following a Uefa threat to disqualify England from Euro 2016 over fan violence in France.

“We take this letter from Uefa with the utmost seriousness,” FA chief executive Martin Glenn said in a statement.

“We understand the potential implications of our supporters’ actions and wholly accept that every effort needs to be made by the FA to positively urge them to act in a responsible and respectful way,” he said.

The warning was reinforced by Monday editions of Britain’s main tabloids.

“Behave, Or We Will Be Kicked Out,” read a headline in the Daily Mirror.

The Daily Star said simply “BEHAVE!” but the paper blamed Russian fans for initiating the violence.

“Russian fans attack us... but WE get the warning,” it said.

Glenn in his statement said: “Violent scenes like those witnessed over the weekend in Marseille have no place in football, nor society as a whole.”

“We want people -- fans and locals - to feel safe and enjoy a festival atmosphere at the Euros and we will continue to work closely with all the relevant authorities to achieve that,” he added.

Glenn also told The Times that he takes the threat of disqualification “extremely seriously”.

“We are making a plea to all England fans to remember that they are in a different country and that the best way to support the team is to be patriotic but respectful -- yes have a drink and sing a song but nothing else,” he was quoted as saying in the paper’s Monday edition.

“The problems outside the ground were initially some unpleasant, embarrassing behaviour by English hooligans which was stepped up massively by what appeared to be totally co-ordinated action by organised Russian gangs,” he said.

“It was shocking, I had not seen scenes like that inside a stadium for decades,” he said.

The Russian Football Union also told its fans on Sunday to behave at Euro 2016 matches or risk seeing the country disqualified from the European Championship finals.

The union, headed by sports minister Vitaly Mutko, expressed “regret over the disturbances with Russian fans participating both outside the stadium and at the match” against England in Marseille on Saturday.

Uefa on Sunday threatened to kick Russia and England out of the European Championship finals if there is a repeat of three days of violence in Marseille involving Russian and English fans.

Thirty-five people were injured in the worst violence at an international tournament since the 1998 World Cup in France. Three remained in serious condition.

‘Armed Russian troublemakers’

The head of Britain’s Euro 2016 policing operation on Sunday said Russian football fans attacked English fans, wearing gum shields, martial arts gloves and carrying knives.

Assistant chief constable Mark Roberts told Britain’s Guardian daily the clashes in Marseille were the most serious he had seen in 10 years of investigating football violence.

Roberts, however, admitted that “a small minority” of England fans were out to cause trouble but said there were hundreds of “Russian troublemakers”.

“Our spotters in Marseille saw them putting in gum shields and putting on martial arts gloves and bandanas before attacking England fans in the port,” Roberts was quoted as saying.

“We know some were carrying knives because one England fan was stabbed. They wore a kind of uniform -- all in black T-shirts and clothing and most carried bum bags, possibly to conceal weapons,” he told the Guardian.

First Published: Jun 13, 2016 08:30 IST