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England fans blame Russians amid fresh Euro 2016 fears

13 June 2016, 21:02

London - English fans involved in bloody clashes before and during England's Euro 2016 match with Russia at the weekend insisted Russian hooligans and French police were to blame, as fears mounted Monday of fresh violence to come.

With images of the unrest which marred Saturday's 1-1 draw splashed across British newspapers, eyes were turning to Thursday's fixture between England and Wales in Lens, northern France.

Russia are playing Slovakia in nearby Lille on Wednesday, setting up a potential flashpoint.

UEFA have warned that both sides could be thrown out of the Euro 2016 championship if there are more disturbances, while England manager Roy Hodgson plus captain Wayne Rooney have urged fans to behave.

Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May said extra police would be sent to Lens to look out for troublemakers but did not provide further details.

England fans, though, insisted that Russian supporters should shoulder most of the blame for clashes that erupted before Saturday's game in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille, as well as in the stadium following the final whistle.

'Black death squad'

George Amos, 29, and his brother Harold, 26, told The Times of how they were attacked.

"Out of nowhere, 300 Russians came running out of an alley," Harold Amos said. "The Russians were proper street fighters, they had gumshields and MMA (mixed martial arts) gloves."

"The Russians looked like the black death squad," added George Amos. "They had these uniforms on. The police just stood there watching."

Two British men were jailed by a French court Monday for their role in the Marseille violence.

Another eight supporters -- four from Britain -- are still facing trial while Marseille's prosecutor said 150 "extremely well-trained" Russian hooligans had dodged arrest.

May said while some England fans had behaved "inexcusably", the French government and UEFA should also be asking "searching questions" about how the stadium violence happened.

"There will be lessons to be learned surrounding the wider policing operation and I am in no doubt that coordinated groups of Russian supporters bear a heavy responsibility," she said.

'Shocking' policing

Before the tournament started, English and Welsh fans were advised to travel to Lille, near Lens, ahead of Thursday's game.

But Russia supporters will also be in the city for their clash on Wednesday with Slovakia and police are now reportedly suggesting that fans consider avoiding Lille.

"It is realistic to expect that the Russian fans will seek to try to behave in a similar way," Assistant Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the head of Britain's policing operation for the tournament in France, told the Daily Telegraph.

"The majority of Russian fans are no doubt decent folk but there is a hardcore group of Russian fans who are willing to use extreme violence.

"They will be in Lille the night before and people should just bear that in mind."

Some England fans have blamed French police for making the situation in Marseille worse. The use of tear gas by officers in France is much more common than in Britain.

"All the way to the ground there were police everywhere, and we were being randomly teargassed for no reason," Lee Gibson, 41, told the Daily Mail.

"But when we got to the ground, there were no police at all. It was shocking."

England player Jamie Vardy's wife Rebekah, who was in the stadium, also took to Twitter to complain about the use of tear gas.

Police in Britain estimate that a record number of up to 500,000 fans from England, Northern Ireland and Wales are attending the tournament.

Over 1,900 known British troublemakers have already been banned from travelling to France



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