Saturday 24 September 2016

France deports 20 Russian fans over Euro 2016 violence

Published 18/06/2016 | 12:41

Russian fans board police vans ahead of their deportation (AP)
Russian fans board police vans ahead of their deportation (AP)

A group of 20 Russian soccer fans has been deported from France after being accused of involvement in hooliganism at Euro 2016.

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The deportations from Nice airport follow mass fighting in the streets involving English, Russian and French fans in the run-up to last week's 1-1 draw between England and Russia.

The fans had been accused by Marseille prefect Stephane Bouillon of "participation in skirmishes linked to the England-Russia game".

Despite their impending removal from France, Alexander Shprygin, the leader of a Russian fan group who was among the 20 to be deported, said that their visas would not be cancelled and all planned to return to France for Monday's match against Wales.

"What has happened to us is a complete outrage," Shprygin said by phone from the airport, adding the 20 were not involved in any disorder.

Shprygin, who heads the government-linked All-Russian Fans' Union, has been accused of far-right links and admitted posting far-right symbols online but denies he or his organisation are racist.

The 20 were part of a larger group of Russians who were detained by French authorities on Tuesday following violent disorder around England's 1-1 draw with Russia last Saturday, when Russian hooligan groups were involved in attacks inside and outside the stadium.

French authorities, acting on a tip-off from Russian police, raided a hotel near Cannes on Sunday and combed through hundreds of hours of video to link suspects to the disorder.

Three Russian fans were convicted of offences related to the violence and sentenced to prison terms of between one and two years, with video evidence playing a key role in the trial, including footage of the disorder filmed by another Russian fan and posted online.

Two of the three who were convicted were members of the board at Shprygin's organisation, and the third was an associate of Shprygin in a Dynamo Moscow fan club.

Meanwhile, Croatian president Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic has called for a government session to discuss fan disturbances at the championships.

Ms Grabar Kitarovic, evoking for the first time her constitutional right to call urgent government meetings, said the country must adopt stricter laws against hooliganism in the sport.

The session could be held early next week.

On Saturday, Uefa formally opened a disciplinary case against the Croatian football federation for racism and fan disorder.

Play was stopped for several minutes late in Croatia's 2-2 draw with the Czech Republic in Saint-Etienne on Friday when firecrackers and lit flares were thrown on the field from one end of the stadium where its fans were sitting.

Croatia fans then fought among themselves as players appealed for calm.

Press Association

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