Tuesday 10 December 2019

UEFA warn England they will be disqualified from Euro 2016 if there is any more crowd trouble

England fans have been warned by UEFA
England fans have been warned by UEFA

England could be disqualified from Euro 2016 if there is a repeat of the violence which saw football fans fight running battles on the streets of Marseille, Uefa has warned.

The behaviour of England and Russia fans before and after their 1-1 draw at the Stade Velodrome was "unacceptable", the executive committee of European football's governing body said.

It opened disciplinary proceedings against the Russian Football Union (RFU) on Sunday for alleged crowd disturbances, racist behaviour and the setting off of fireworks by its fans during the game on Saturday night.

Uefa has no power to take action against England for fans' behaviour in the streets of the city, where police used tear gas as Three Lions supporters fought with Russians and local French hooligans over three consecutive days.

However, in a statement, it appealed to both country's football bodies to urge supporters to "behave in a responsible and respectful manner", adding: "The Uefa Executive Committee has warned both football associations that - irrespective of any decisions taken by the independent disciplinary bodies relating to incidents inside the stadium - it will not hesitate to impose additional sanctions on the Football Association (FA) and the Russian Football Union (RFU), including the potential disqualification of their respective teams from the tournament, should such violence occur again."

A Downing Street spokeswoman said six British nationals remain in hospital following the violence in Marseille and Home Secretary Theresa May has spoken to her counterpart in Paris, interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve, about the violence disorder.

The spokeswoman said, while UK officers have been in France since before the tournament began, they had offered to send more "to support the security operation around the match in Lens".

She added: "UK police will be assisting the French with their post-incident investigations and supporting them to gather evidence, including evidence against any England fans involved in the disorder.

"The Home Secretary has spoken to her French counterpart, Bernard Cazeneuve, the interior minister, to continue to co-ordinate and work closely together on the response. And the Foreign Office has been in touch with the Russian authorities about our concerns."

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko has also condemned the violence.

England fans were seen fleeing the stands shortly after the final whistle was blown as balaclava-clad thugs punched through a line of stewards before attacking bystanders.

The incident raised serious questions about French security at a time when the country is on high alert after November's terrorist attacks on Paris.

The scenes from Marseille were described by the FA as "terrible" as it called on the local authorities to deal with the perpetrators swiftly.

World football body Fifa also condemned the violence, with a statement saying it was "wholly unacceptable to see such shameful scenes around football matches perpetrated by a minority of idiotic troublemakers, who have nothing to do with football and its true fans".

England fan Sam Blackwell was at the Stade Velodrome on Saturday night and told the BBC that security had been "very poor" with stewards left to cope on their own for five to 10 minutes before help arrived.

He said: "Even before we got in the stadium we were surprised how slack the searches were going into the ground, because they were almost non-existent. It was just a quick pat down and then they let you through.

"If they were doing them properly how would the Russian fans have got the fireworks and the flares in?"

He added: "I would say it was very poor security given all I have been reading in the press about how it was going to be at its highest because of the risks that there were from other threats. I thought it was very poor."

The French government has announced an alcohol ban in "sensitive areas" around Euro 2016 matches.

The interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said: "Several prefects have already imposed restrictions on the sale, transportation, and consumption of alcohol."

He condemned the events in Marseille as unacceptable and said the police enforcement system which was in place had been "properly-sized".

"The events that occurred last night in Marseille are unacceptable. Unacceptable to the government, socially unacceptable, unacceptable for football lovers," he said.

"We witnessed violence between fans, caused by alcoholic hordes who have engaged in unacceptable abuses.

"The law and order system in place in Marseille yesterday was properly-sized. It was reactive and helped restore calm in an hour and a half, separating the highly alcoholic protagonists."

Culture, Media and Sport Secretary John Whittingdale said: "The scenes that occurred between a small minority of fans in Marseille were extremely concerning.

"The vast majority of supporters in France simply want to play their part in a great festival of football.

"We want fans of all teams to enjoy themselves but to be respectful of others and the local authorities. We urge supporters to remain calm.

"We welcome Uefa's investigation into the incident in the stadium last night and remain in contact with Euro 2016 organisers and the FA. We stand ready to assist further in any way that we can."

England fans returning from France on the Eurostar at St Pancras on Sunday were met by about a dozen police officers appealing for information about the trouble in Marseille.

The officers were asking for witnesses and handing out leaflets to passengers.

The leaflets asked for witnesses to "any of the football disorder or the violent offences" to get in touch with the police, as well as appealing for any video footage the England fans may have taken of the trouble.

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