Euro 2012: Police fire rubber bullets as Polish and Russian fans riot in Warsaw
Over 100 arrested after vicious fighting in city centre
Riot police fired teargas and rubber bullets at Polish and Russian football fans who fought bloody running battles on the streets of Warsaw yesterday, hours before their teams met in a Euro 2012 match.
Groups of young men, some of them masked, pelted Polish officers with rocks, bottles and flares.
Violence erupted as thousands of Russian fans, flanked by riot police, marched through the city to mark Russia Day, considered a provocative gesture by some Poles.
Authorities had been bracing themselves for a confrontation between the rival supporters and staged an unprecedented security operation in the Polish capital.
Polish riot police were seen dragging people off as Polish fans chanted: "Russia whores, Russia whores" and "Hit the red trash with a hammer, with a sickle."
Some Poles displayed a banner saying, "Polish President murdered in Russia," referring to a plane crash in Russia two years ago that killed Poland's president and 95 others.
Groups of fans began to provoke each other by yelling insults and then small groups started to scuffle. Witnesses saw one man being hit on the head with an iron bar. "You could see on both the Polish and the Russian sides that it was organised groups of hooligans, quite small groups," said Polish fan Maciej Kowalski.
A police spokesman said they made over 100 arrests, while at least seven fans were seriously injured.
"We are still monitoring the situation and trying to identify the supporters involved. The operation is not over," he said
A film on YouTube showed a Polish fan lying unconscious on the Poniatowskigo bridge surrounded by police and reporters.
About 20,000 Russian fans were in Warsaw for the match.
So far at Euro 2012 there have been only isolated incidents of violence. But the Russian Football Association is already facing punishment by UEFA after its fans threw fireworks and displayed banners during Russia's opening match against the Czech Republic in Wroclaw.