Russians arrested, alcohol banned as France tries to quell Euro fan violence
PARIS/NICE – Police on Tuesday detained 43 Russia fans suspected of taking part in clashes with England supporters in Marseille at the start of the Euro 2016 football tournament, and two cities in northern France imposed alcohol bans in a bid to avert more hooliganism.
UEFA said Russia would be thrown out of the tournament if there was a repeat of the violence by Russia fans which marred the end of last Saturday’s match against England.
Despite the measures, a small group of Russian and English fans scuffled in the northern city of Lille as thousands of supporters arrived in the area for the next round of matches.
Lille is seen as a potential trouble-spot as Russia play Slovakia there on Wednesday and England fans are also congregating there ahead of their match against Wales in nearby Lens on Thursday.
The violence between rival fans has marred the start of the 24-nation championship and given an extra headache to police and security forces already pre-occupied with guarding against any Islamist militant threat.
The detentions were made after riot police surrounded a bus packed with Russia fans near Cannes on the French Riviera as it headed north. After some argument, the 43 Russians were taken into custody, police said.
“There are clear signs that some of them took part in unacceptable violence in Marseille,” local police chief Adolphe Colrat said.
Alexander Shprygin, the head of a Russian supporters group, denied that any of the fans in the bus were involved in the Marseille clashes.
Anti-racism groups have accused Shprygin, a self-described nationalist who was photographed as a young man making what looked like a Nazi salute, of having links to Russia’s shadowy far-right movement. He has dismissed the allegations.