VIDEO: Owner of Irish bar at the centre of Marseilles violence involving English fans speaks
O'Malley's bar manager Anthony Heraud tells Ian Herbert that a large group of English fans were provoked by French locals in Marseilles as violent clashes mar tournament build-up
The manager of a bar where English fans were involved in running clashes with locals claimed on Friday that French troublemakers from outside Marseilles had deliberately provoked the violence.
French police fired tear gas and released dogs after midnight in Marseilles’ Old Port area, where some estimates suggest 2,000 fans England had gathered yesterday evening at three pubs. But though two English fans have been arrested, Anthony Heraud, manager of O’Malley’s bar, said that the French had turned up intent on provoking the visiting fans.
“There were problem with people from outside Marseilles. They come for provocation, he said. “The English fans were cool, no fights. It was over in three minutes. Police used [tear] gas. They use it on everybody, many people. The English people are not happy but it is what happens.” Mr Heraud said that bottle throwing by the French had started the clashes at a time when around 700 mainly English fans were in his bar.
Supporters caught up in the violence and tear gas said police had cordoned off a large area outside the pub and were present in substantial numbers by 9pm, possibly aware that there may be problems between locals and the English fans. The English had been a very visible presence all day – singing the national anthem throughout the afternoon and late into the evening.
Fan Jamie Hazel, from Hertfordshire, said that an initial problem occurred when French fans tried to sell the English tickets for tomorrow night’s opening game against Russia. Bottles were then thrown and English fans responded by hurling tables towards the French. The police then released several dogs and tear gas canisters. “We thought the French were trying to rip off English fans [with their tickets],” he said. “Police spotted there was something going on, came over, and before they could do anything there was glass coming over and about 50 to 100 people coming around the corner with masks on. The police got in the middle and the tear gas came out. It was very frightening, not something you want before the tournament has been started.”
Mr Hazel said that the police had responded well and that the tear gas was necessary.
Independent News Service