Russia land ‘serious charges’ after trouble at England game

Date published: Sunday 12th June 2016 1:03

England v Russia: Trouble flared

Russia are facing serious UEFA sanctions after being charged with crowd disorder and racist behaviour following the sickening scenes that overshadowed Saturday’s Euro 2016 clash with England.

Ugly clashes in Marseille marred the build-up to the Group B clash, with English, Russian and French fans involved in trouble over three days, while an England fan remains in critical condition in hospital following the violence.

Meanwhile, fears of more trouble have prompted shadow home secretary Andy Burnham to call on the British government to intervene and issue a statement in parliament regarding the safety of England fans in France.

England fans Marseille

UEFA announced on Sunday morning it has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Football Union of Russia for alleged crowd disturbances, racist behaviour and the setting off of fireworks by Russia fans.

Trouble flared towards the end of the match when Russian fans appeared to launch attacks on England supporters following Vasili Berezutsky’s late headed equaliser.

UEFA said in a statement on Sunday: “UEFA expresses its utter disgust for the violent clashes that occurred in the city centre of Marseille, and its serious concern for the incidents at the end of the match inside Stade Velodrome.

“This kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable and has no place in football.

“Disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the Russian Football Union (RFU) for the following events occurring inside the stadium: crowd disturbances, setting off of fireworks and throwing of missiles.

“A decision on the sanctions to be imposed will be made within the next few days, once the RFU has been able to submit written statements and evidence.

“UEFA acknowledges that there were segregation issues at Stade Velodrome and will implement corrective measures to strengthen the deployment of security personnel at stadiums, in close collaboration with local authorities.”

The trouble in the ground followed three days of chaos in the Old Port area of the city, with up to 20 England supporters reportedly hurt in clashes, and French police using a water cannon and tear gas to repel rioters.

And the scenes prompted Burnham to raise concerns over a possible escalation in the trouble given the local authorities’ apparent inability to control the events in Marseille.

Burnham told BBC Radio Five’s Sportsweek programme: “What I’m most surprised about is the silence from the (British) government because this is a very serious situation.

“We have got a lot of football to be played and we have got three home nations out there and the safety of their supporters is the issue.

“So I think we need the government to make a statement tomorrow and just to set out some of the facts here.”

Four years ago, UEFA imposed a series of sanctions on Russia, including a 120,000 euro (£96,000) fine, for their fans’ behaviour in the previous European Championship held in Poland and Ukraine.

Russia has long been dogged with issues relating to racism, with FARE executive director Piara Powar warning last December there “will be incidents inside stadiums, around stadiums” during the 2018 World Cup.

FARE observers were dotted around the Stade Velodrome on Saturday, although there has yet to be confirmation on the nature of the racist behaviour.

The chief executive of the Football Supporters’ Federation, Kevin Miles, who is in Marseille, blamed the French police for many of the problems and said England fans were not responsible for initiating any of the violence.

Miles told Sportsweek: “I am very, very critical of the policing – the French police have stood back and watched some of those groups get themselves organised and then initiate attacks on English fans.

“They have done nothing to prevent those attacks, nothing to make the England fans feel protected. And their response is to fire tear gas in the direction of the incident.

“None of the violent incidents have been initiated by England fans. I’ve not said the behaviour of England fans has been perfect… but there’s a big difference between that sort of anti-social behaviour and initiating a violent attack.”

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