Poland sports minister 'ashamed' after Polish and Russian hooligans riot in Warsaw
POLAND’s sports minister, Joanna Mucha, has revealed her "shame" at local hooligans who attempted to disrupt the European Championship by attacking rival Russia supporters before Tuesday night's kick-off.
Police in Warsaw have made over 183 arrests relating to clashes between Poland and Russia fans and expect to add to that number as investigations continue.
Co-hosts Poland drew 1-1 with their Group A rivals last night but the on-field action was accompanied by less savoury scenes in the city.
Prior to the match, at the National Stadium, thousands of Russian fans marched on the capital's Poniatowski Bridge to mark Russia Day, considered a provocative gesture by some Poles whose nation was subjected to decades of rule by Moscow during the Cold War.
Flashpoints occurred there, as well as at the designated Fanzone in Plac Defilad Square, with reports of lesser disturbances during the match.
Police are understood to have deployed water canon and rubber bullets as part of their response.
Interior minister Jacek Cichocki, who was present with Mucha at a hastily-arranged news conference in Warsaw, said: "We were most worried about soccer thugs disrupting celebrations after game, but it didn’t happen," Cichocki said. "There were a few attempts, but police efforts and arrests prevented anything from happening."
A statement, released via the Polish police, read: "There are more than 183 hooligans caught by the police because of disorders in Warsaw - firstly during the march to National Stadion, secondly in the Fanzone in Plac Defilad Square.
"Among the kept persons there are fans of both teams - Russian and Polish.
"There are 10 persons, who are injured: 7 Polish, 2 Russians and 1 German - their lives are not in danger concerning the information from the medical services.
"The police operation is still lasting. The police officers are checking the surveillance system, police cameras and still (plan to) identify the hooligans who took part in the disorders. Further arrests are planned."
The number of related injuries is reported to have subsequently risen to 15.
Trouble flared despite an unprecedented security operation in the Polish capital, where authorities had been extensively trained in anti-riot operations prior to the tournament.
Yesterday's violence is is the latest blight on the competition, which is being co-hosted by Ukraine, with Uefa already indicating they will launch investigations into allegations of racist chanting in games involving Spain and Italy, and Russia and the Czech Republic.
Prior to the tournament, some Dutch squad members complained of hearing racist abuse during a training session at Wisla Krakow's stadium.