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England fans sent to prison over Marseille violence

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England fans sent to prison over Marseille violence
Photo: AFP
16:05 CEST+02:00
Two England fans have been given prison sentences for their role in the violence that blighted the build up to England versus Russia match in Marseille on Saturday.

A French court in Marseille convicted two English football fans of involvement in the rioting.

The pair were sentenced to two and three months in prison for their role in the violence that marred the build up to the England versus Russia Euro 2016 match in Marseille on Saturday.

England fans were involved in three days of clashes with French police, local youths and Russian hooligans before Saturday's game.

Ian Hepworth, a 41-year-old psychiatric nurse, was sentenced to three months in prison while Alexander Booth, a 20-year-old chef, received a two-month term.

Hepworth admitted throwing a beer bottle at police at 1am on Sunday, following England's match with Russia on Saturday.
   
"My job is helping people. I did something stupid," he said through a court translator.
   
Hepworth, wearing a blue shirt and with a shaven head, said he had had no intention of hitting police with the bottle.
   
"I wanted to impress my new French friends," he told the court.
   
Before the incident, he had attended the match at the Stade Velodrome alone.Both were banned from France for two years.
 
Booth, who was wearing an England team t-shirt, admitted throwing a plastic beer cup and making an offensive gesture at police in the Vieux Port district of Marseille on Saturday evening.
   
Prosecutor Andre Ribes said police had reported that Booth had thrown a glass bottle and had aimed for their legs under their shields.
   
Booth told the magistrate he was "hard-working" and insisted: "This is not like me."
   
"I apologize to the people and the police of Marseille... I was at the wrong place at the wrong time," he told the court.
 
French police, who have been accused of failing to deal with the violence, made 20 arrests in total. Ten individuals in total faced court on Monday, including six British nationals, three French nationals and an Austrian.

(Photo: AFP)

England fans first became involved in skirmishes on Thursday night when a group of around 70 local youths attacked fans.

At one point a number fans were heard chanting "Isis where are you" in a city with a large Muslim population.

On Friday afternoon there were more clashes between fans and the French police. This time fans sang "sit down if you hate the French" as well as songs about the IRA and World War Two.

Then on Saturday hundreds of fans were involved in clashes with Russian hooligans, who ran amok in the city attacking any England fans in their path.

French authorities admitted on Monday that 150 "highly trained" Russian hooligans had evaded arrest.

SEE ALSO: French police appear unprepared for hooligan threat

On Monday England captain Wayne Rooney and manager Roy Hodgson on Monday pleaded with the country's fans to avoid further violence to head off a UEFA threat to disqualify the team from Euro 2016.

"I'm appealing to you to stay out of trouble," Hodgson said in a video message. "We really desperately want to stay in the competition."

Rooney told fans: "Be safe, be sensible and continue with your great support for the players."

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