Euro 2016: FA has ‘serious concerns’ over Lille security

Media captionA French prosecutor says there were around 150 Russian “hooligans” who travelled to Marseille “well-prepared for violence”

There are “serious concerns” about security in Lille, where England and Russia fans are set to gather for this week’s Euro 2016 matches, Football Association chairman Greg Dyke says.

England supporters are due to be in Lille ahead of Thursday’s match against Wales in nearby Lens, while Russia play Slovakia in the city on Wednesday.

Six England fans were jailed after the teams drew 1-1 on Saturday.

Russia has received a suspended disqualification from the tournament.

The country was also fined 150,000 euros (£119,000) over crowd trouble at the match in Marseille.

Uefa said the punishment would be imposed if similar incidents happen at any of Russia’s remaining matches.

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Theresa May described the violence as “deeply disturbing” and said the UK was offering support with investigations and “post-incident analysis”.

Security arrangements

Both Russia and England could face expulsion by Uefa, the organisers of Euro 2016, if there is any further violence.

But in a letter to Uefa in response, Mr Dyke rejected the suggestion that England fans were at fault for scenes inside the Stade Velodrome following the match with Russia.

Media captionFormer FA boss David Davies said “we have never been closer to a country being thrown out because of the behaviour of its supporters”

“The implication in your jointly-addressed letter is that English fans were in part responsible for the terrible incidents at the end of the match with Russia,” the FA chairman wrote.

“This is contradicted both by the video evidence and by the fact your independent disciplinary bodies have only instigated sanctions against the Russian Football Union.”

He said the stewarding in the stadium was “unacceptable” as supporters were able to get in with fireworks and flares, and there was “insufficient segregation” between England and Russian fans.

England fans, particularly those without match tickets, had been advised to stay in Lille because Lens is a small city, Mr Dyke said.

“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,” he added.

“These concerns are heightened with the knowledge that Russia will play in Lille on Wednesday afternoon.”

Image copyright
AP

Image caption

Greg Dyke said there was “insufficient segregation” between England and Russian fans during Saturday’s match

Thousands of supporters are expected to follow Thursday’s match between Wales and England at fan zones in the Place Jean Jaures in Lens and also Lille, which is 24 miles (39km) away.

More than 35,000 ticket holders are due to watch the clash in the Stade Bollaert-Delelis.

Responding to an urgent Commons question from shadow home secretary Andy Burnham, Mrs May said the UK was sending police spotters – officers trained to spot trouble-makers at football matches – to support French authorities.

This will involve the deployment of additional British Transport Police officers on rail services in the area, following a request from the French.

She also said 1,400 passports were seized from England fans before the tournament began.

England fans without tickets were being advised against travelling to Lens and Lille, she added.

In other developments:

Chris Booth, father of jailed England fan Alexander Booth, said his son’s sentence was “a joke, it’s pathetic”.

“I was with him all the time. He threw absolutely nothing. You see more justice in a kangaroo court.”

The clashes in Marseille’s Stade Velodrome on Saturday followed England’s 1-1 Euro 2016 draw with Russia, after Russian fans appeared to rush at England supporters.

Witnesses said trouble began in the stadium on Saturday after flares were let off by Russian fans near the end of the game. Some then climbed across barriers designed to keep rival fans apart, and a number appeared to kick and punch fleeing England fans.

The charges against Russia are for crowd disturbances, racist behaviour, and setting off fireworks during the game.

Groups of Russian fans are also being deported from France, with prosecutors saying 150 Russian hooligans were behind the violence in Marseille.

Image copyright
PA

Image caption

Some Russia supporters had smuggled in flares which they set off at the end of the match

Former head of the National Counter Terrorism Security office told BBC Radio 5 live French police had a “very difficult job” as they were operating under the threat of terrorism – following recent attacks in the country.

But Chris Phillips added: “They’ve not learned from many years of experience, certainly that we in the UK have had, around dealing with disorder and dealing with crowds of people”.

Dr Joel Rookwood, from Southampton Solent University, told the BBC that, to many Russian fans, England “represented the ultimate enemy” and was seen as the inventor of football hooliganism.

He said beating England in fights off the pitch was “akin” to beating them on it.

Meanwhile, England manager Roy Hodgson and captain Wayne Rooney appealed directly to fans to “behave themselves”.

Media captionEngland boss Roy Hodgson & Wayne Rooney urge fans to avoid trouble

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Euro 2016: FA has ‘serious concerns’ over Lille security

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