The European soccer championship began in France this week, kicking off with clashes between fans and riot police in Marseilles. One match on Saturday night saw crowds of Russian and English fans fighting in the stadium, as well as being teargassed in the streets outside.
English soccer fans have a particularly bad reputation throughout Europe, although the last few years have been comparatively quiet. With riot police already being deployed on Friday, the first night of the championship, this week seemed to signal the return of England's infamous soccer hooligans. Then, on Saturday, the Russian fans swung into action.Before and after the England versus Russia match on Saturday, fans were rioting in the streets. Footage from inside the Stade Velodrome in Marseilles shows a crowd of Russians chasing English fans through the stands, with many people having to climb over barricades to escape.
Videos on social media show English and Russian fans throwing chairs and bottles in the streets, and getting into brawls. Both within the Euro 2016 stadiums and outside in public spaces, it seems that authorities were not remotely prepared for this level of violence.Rebekah Vardy, wife of England striker Jamie Vardy, tweeted that she had been caught up in the violence before Saturday's match with Russia, saying that police "teargassed fans for no reason." Meanwhile, former England star Gary Lineker tweeted, "You can talk about police provocation, or other fans causing trouble, but it only seems to happen where the English go." UEFA, the governing body for the European soccer championship, has now opened disciplinary proceedings with Russia's Football Union. The BBC reports that Russian fans were charged with "crowd disturbances, racist behavior, and setting off fireworks." According to the Independent, one English fan was allegedly beaten with a metal pole, and another was slashed with a knife.
With Euro 2016 due to continue until July 10, UEFA is deploying "corrective measures" to avoid similar incidents in future matches.