Russia handed Euro 2016 sanctions; England concern over security

Russia's further participation at Euro 2016 now depends on the conduct of their fans after UEFA ruled Tuesday the team would be disqualified if its supporters were involved in further stadium crowd disturbances.

The Russian Football Union (RFU) was given a suspended disqualification until the end of the tournament and fined 150,000 euros (168,000 dollars) by UEFA's disciplinary committee.

England's Football Association meanwhile said it had "serious concerns" about security in Lille amid the prospect of further confrontations between England and Russia fans.

Russia's match against Slovakia in Lille on Wednesday will be followed by England against Wales in Lens on Thursday.

The two northern French cities are just 40 kilometres apart, and most England fans gathering for the game are expected to stay in the much bigger city of Lille.

The RFU accepted the ruling by UEFA's disciplinary committee which followed crowd disorder inside the Stade Velodrome in Marseille Saturday in the Group B match between Russia and England.

RFU president Vitaly Mutko, who is also sports minister, told Russia's TASS news agency: "We will be following the decision of UEFA and there must be no other stance of the RFU."

UEFA had already warned the Russian and English associations their teams could be disqualified if there were a repeat of violent clashes in Marseille.

Authorities have begun deporting Russian fans while several supporters have been jailed including six Britons who were sentenced to serve up to three months in jail for throwing beer bottles at police.

On Tuesday, French police stopped a bus near Cannes carrying Russia fans and asked 29 people in the group to show their documents, a spokeswoman for the south-eastern Alpes-Maritime department said.

The fans were travelling to Lille for Russia's match against Slovakia, the group's leader said on Twitter. Alexander Shprygin, president of the Russian Union of Supporters, said his group was being deported.

"Of the 29 people being deported, none has broken any law of France, none participated in the events in Marseille, neither at the port nor at the stadium," Shprygin said.

On Monday, Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said some 150 "highly trained" Russian hooligans were in the port city ahead of the match against England. Thirty-five people were injured in clashes including one person from England who remained in critical but stable condition.

UEFA's sanctions only concerned incidents inside the Marseille stadium on charges "relating to crowd disturbances, use of fireworks and racist behaviour." The England FA was not charged.

Russian fans were seen to charge a section of the ground housing England supporters directly after the match, and also set off flares.

UEFA said the suspended disqualification "will be lifted if incidents of a similar nature (crowd disturbances) happen inside the stadium at any of the remaining matches of the Russian team during the tournament."

On Monday, Igor Lebedev, a senior Russian lawmaker and member of the RFU's executive committee, praised the Russian fans, saying they "did a good job" fighting the English.

And in Lille on Tuesday, Russia forward Artem Dzyuba said England fans were as much to blame as Russian fans for the crowd violence.

"You have to be objective. It is 50-50 in any conflict. There are two sides. I don’t say that only Russians are at fault," he said.

Russia coach Leonid Slutski said: "I agree with my player. We are sure we will not be kicked out and there will be no injustice."

Voicing concerns over security in Lille in a letter to UEFA, FA chairman Greg Dyke wrote: "Whilst we will be working hard to positively influence their behaviour we have serious concerns around the security arrangements for the city in the next few days. These concerns are heightened with the knowledge that Russia will play in Lille on Wednesday afternoon."

Lens will deploy 2,400 security personnel for Thursday's match including 1,200 police and gendarmes, nearly 350 firefighters and medical personnel and nearly 850 private security agents.

Regional head Fabienne Buccio is expecting between 40,000 and 50,000 British fans.

Buccio said seven riot police units will be deployed in the stadium and 20 additional private security agents will also be present in the fan zones.

Last update: Tue, 14/06/2016 - 21:46

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