Sunday 11 December 2016

Three Russians jailed over Euro 2016 violence

Published 16/06/2016 | 12:06

Police officers secure the front of a police station in Marseille, France (AP)
Police officers secure the front of a police station in Marseille, France (AP)

France has sentenced three Russian fans to prison and plans to deport 20 others next week for their role in the violence in Marseille that marred Russia's Euro 2016 opening match against England.

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Sporadic violence has since moved to northern France, where Russia played Slovakia on Wednesday and England played Wales on Thursday - but nothing as bad as the violence witnessed last week in the south.

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.

Part of the evidence against Erunov was footage filmed by another Russian fan and posted online.

Erunov was seen shouting and gesturing on the video, which also showed acts of violence. He denied playing any role in the violence.

Dynamo Moscow fan Nikolai Morozov received a 12-month sentence and Sergei Gorbachev, the director of a construction company in the central Russian city of Tula, received 18 months.

All three also face a two-year ban from France upon release.

The sentences were passed on the same day that French officials announced 20 more Russian fans would be deported because of what regional prefect Stephane Bouillon called "their participation in skirmishes linked to the England-Russia game".

The 20 were detained alongside the three who were tried on Thursday and included Alexander Shprygin, president of the All-Russian Fans' Union, who has a role in Russian football's governing body and sits on a commission overseeing Moscow's preparations for hosting the 2018 World Cup.

Mr Shprygin said that Russian fans had been unfairly victimised by French authorities.

"We consider (the deportations) a political decision," he said, insisting that none of the 20 had been involved in the violence.

"We've filed an appeal against our removal. We're waiting for the consul and for lawyers," he said, adding that the fans had given phone records to the police indicating that they were not present for the violence around last week's game.

The men were among 43 Russian fans detained on Tuesday after their bus was stopped by French police near the town of Mandelieu in a check for hooligans.

Russian officials have protested against the detention and have criticised French policing.

The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the French ambassador in Moscow on Wednesday and warned that the detentions could damage French-Russian relations.

Uefa has already told Russian football authorities that their team could be kicked out of Euro 2016 if there is a repeat of the violence that surrounded its match last Saturday against England.

Of particular concern to Europe's governing body is that Russian fans stormed a section of English fans inside the stadium.

English football's governing body has also been warned about the behaviour of its fans but the team's participation in the competition was not under immediate threat on Thursday, despite a fresh outbreak of fan violence in the northern French city of Lille that required riot police to deploy tear gas.

Although English fans in Lille were involved in further unrest on Wednesday night, Uefa has said there are no plans for an emergency meeting of its executive committee to discuss any further warning or sanctions against the English Football Association.

Earlier this week, Uefa's leadership ruled that England - along with Russia - faced potential disqualification if there was a repeat of the violence that surrounded their match in Marseille.

"Uefa regrets the skirmishes which occurred in Lille last night," European football's governing body said in a statement on Thursday.

"Police forces made several arrests and were quick to restore order and keep the situation under control."

The trouble in Lille on Wednesday did not reach the levels of Marseille where English fans were involved in three days of occasionally vicious fighting with Russians.

Local authorities said police made 37 arrests and detained 15 people in custody.

The French interior ministry also disclosed details of the policing operation throughout the first week of Euro 2016, saying 323 people had been detained, 196 jailed, eight convicted and 24 expelled from the country.

Press Association

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