French police prepare for England v Wales after disorder in Lille

Police in the small French city of Lens were preparing for the Euro 2016 clash between England and Wales on Thursday, after trouble in neighboring Lille led police to fire tear gas and detain 37 people.

UEFA said England's place at the football tournament is not under immediate threat following incidents involving English fans in Lille. A spokesman told dpa that the governing body "regrets" the skirmishes but said police were able to restore order quickly.

By late morning, regional authority Fabienne Buccio said police had not noticed any Russia supporters arriving in Lens, where security personnel are on alert for a possible replay of fan violence between England and Russia supporters that hit Marseille over the weekend.

Both Russia and England fans had converged in Lille. Russia fans had witnessed their 2-1 defeat to Slovakia in Lille on Wednesday, while England fans gathered in the city ahead of Thursday's match against Wales in Lens, 30 kilometres away.

A police statement said 37 people had been detained in Lille and that several bars in the city had been asked to stop selling alcohol, or to close, owing to excessive drunkenness by fans. By midday Thursday, police said that only 15 people were taken into full custody.

Fifty-one people were treated by medical personnel and 18 people were taken to the hospital.

In an earlier statement, Lille police specified that six Russia supporters were detained for their suspected involvement in the Marseille clashes and five people were detained for public drunkenness on a train coming from London.

Police in riot gear patrolled the streets of Lille through the night. A dpa witness said police used pepper spray, batons and tear gas against England supporters singing anti-Russian songs and throwing beer bottles.

Russian officials have said that France is targeting their fans, while others have cheered on the the actions of those in Marseille. France's ambassador to Moscow was summoned Wednesday after 43 Russians were arrested in a bus bound for Lille.

The Marseille clashes broke out before and after Saturday's 1-1 draw between Russia and England. Governing body UEFA said Russia would be ejected from the tournament in case of any repeat inside a stadium and also warned England.

In Lens, where heavy rain was falling, Buccio said that nine people were arrested overnight for public drunkenness - eight French and one Briton.

"Everything is going well so far, and I hope it remains the case over the course of the day," Buccio told reporters as she gave them a tour of the police command centre.

The town has deployed 1,400 police for the match, which is expected to draw 40,000-50,000 British fans to the stadium and fan zones in Lens and Lille.

The French Interior Ministry said 323 people have been detained since the start of the tournament, with 196 held in police custody, eight sentenced to terms in prison and three to suspended terms. It added that 24 people were ordered to leave France by local prefectures.

In Lyon on Wednesday, French police intervened in a knife fight that broke out in a fan zone between France and Albania supporters. One person from France and one from Belgium were injured in the brawl.

Last update: Thu, 16/06/2016 - 13:36
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