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EURO 2016

HOOLIGANISM

Crowd violence in France sparks Euro 2016 fears

Serious questions have been raised about France's ability to safely stage the 2016 UEFA European Championships after crowd trouble during a match at one of the host venues on the weekend.

Crowd violence in France sparks Euro 2016 fears
The return of Lyon's Mathieu Valbuena to face his former club had already made for a charged atmosphere before sections of the crowd turned violent. Photo: AFP

French sports minister Thierry Braillard on Monday called for tougher controls as violence marred Ligue 1 action in France at the weekend just months ahead of Euro 2016.

The clash between Marseille and Lyon in the Velodrome Stadium on Sunday night was restarted after a 20-minute stoppage caused by missile-throwing fans.

There were also incidents during Saturday's Ligue 1 match between Bastia and Nice in Corsica as Paris Saint-Germain's fans caused trouble in the streets of Reims after a 1-1 draw.

Months ahead of the kickoff of Euro 2016 in France on June 10, an emergency meeting has been called by the French Professional Football League (LFP) in their Paris headquarters on Monday to assess the situation.

“We are after all months from a tremendous event which is the organisation of the European football championship and I really call for everyone to assess what happened,” Braillard told French radio RTL.

The return of Lyon's Mathieu Valbuena to face his former club had already made for a charged atmosphere in the southern port city. Lyon were leading 1-0 when play was interrupted as objects, including bottles and cups, rained down from the stands.

The game was restarted after a 20-minute stoppage and finished in a 1-1 draw.

“This is unacceptable and I think we really need to have much firmer controls,” said Braillard.

“Marseille is a footballing city. The Marseille public is known to be a great public. I think there are security measures that must be respected and we can't see glass bottles like that in the stands.

“Where are we going? Imagine that a bottle had struck a player! What situation would we be in today? It's unacceptable and I think that we really need to tighten up controls.”

In addition to the club facing a hefty fine, Marseille president Vincent Labrune, could also be punished for his comments blaming the “incidents” on biased referring.

“There was a great stadium, a great atmosphere. And there was unfortunately the facts of the game which led to one or two incidents it's true,” said Labrune.

“We had a remarkable refereeing quartet, they didn't do it on purpose but from what I saw it was always, always in the same direction,” he added.

The atmosphere was further fueled by an ongoing feud between the club presidents with Lyon boss Jean-Michel Aulas criticising his Marseille counterpart.

“The words of Vincent Labrune are irresponsible, for me he is a clown, and I don't think he has a future in football.”

In Bastia, local authorities had once again banned Nice fans from attending the game at the Furiani Stadium because of multiple incidents over the years between the two clubs.

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HOOLIGANISM

English and Russian fans fight in Marseille

Football fans fought pitched battles for the third day in the French city of Marseille ahead of England's European Championship clash with Russia on Saturday.

English and Russian fans fight in Marseille
A bloodied Russian fan is arrested by police. Photo: AFP

Bare-chested English and Russian supporters hurled bistro chairs and bottles in the historic Vieux-Port district where the cobbled streets were littered with broken glass and debris.

The air was thick with tear gas.

At least five people were hurt in the violence which erupted after massed ranks of fans had been drinking for hours in the southern city.

AFP journalists saw one man with a heavily bloodied face receiving treatment after apparently suffering a cardiac arrest.

Police fired volleys of teargas to disperse the brawling fans as well as local youths who became involved.

Fans were seen marauding through streets throwing chairs and taunting each other.

Six people were arrested, adding to seven arrests in the district on Friday night in similar disturbances.

Police also broke up fighting involving England fans on Thursday.

England fans said the latest clashes were caused by Russians who charged at them.

“There were about 100 Russians, they just came out of nowhere, something was thrown and that started it all off,” said one England supporter who asked not to be named.

Another fan, Danny Hart, 23, said the 9:00 pm (1900 GMT) kickoff time had fuelled the violence.

“I don't think it's a good idea to have scheduled the match at nine o'clock tonight.

“By that time everyone's going to be completely pissed (drunk).”

The England-Russian game was one of five classified as “high-risk” for hooliganism by organisers.

Marseille residents said the violence should have been expected.

“It's the English, what do you expect? We know what it's going to be like when they come here,” said Laurent Ferrero, a pizzeria owner.
 
“In 1998 it was the same thing,” he said, recalling clashes between English and Tunisian fans in the port city during that year's World Cup.

In Lyon, meanwhile, four French men aged between 20 and 24 were briefly detained following a drunken fight in a bar where England fans had been drinking, police said.

Witnesses said the French men attacked the England supporters. Police did not comment.

The violence has marred French joy at an otherwise smooth start to the giant tournament which has been overshadowed by months of industrial unrest and terror fears.

The host country was boosted by a 2-1 win against Romania in an opening match.