Joey Barton describes 'scary' moment he ran into Russian gang in Marseilles
Former Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton has told of the "scary sight" he witnessed after running into a group of Russian thugs targeting England fans in Marseilles.
Barton, 33, said the men "operated like a military group" and were wearing balaclavas and face masks, while some had "knuckle-dusters".
The footballer, a former Marseilles player, was with friends ahead of Saturday’s Group B match when he suspected trouble. He attempted to guide his friends to safety through back streets before running into "what you’d have thought was the Russian army".
"We could sense there was going to be trouble so I thought I’d be clever and lead them away using the back streets I know from my time there," he said.
However, Barton’s knowledge of the streets led them to some ugly scenes.
"Coming up the stairs of a Metro station I just ran into this gang. They were running round the back streets trying to cut off the English fans.
"There was 40 or 50 of them, looking for groups of England fans.
"Luckily we weren’t wearing any England kit. We walked right through the middle of them."
The start of Euro 2016 has been marred by violent clashes. So far two English fans have been arrested.
Meanwhile Igor Lebedev, a member of the Russian Football Union [RFU] executive committee and an MP of the Liberal Democratic party in Russia, has told Russian fans to "keep it up" in reference to the assault on English fans.
Lebedev blamed the local authorities for failing to organise the event properly and criticised England fans for provoking their opponents, claiming that they brought the trouble on themselves.
Independent News Service