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”

The FA has “serious concerns” about security in Lille, where England fans and Russian supporters are set to gather for this week’s Euro 2016 matches, chairman Greg Dyke has said.

England fans 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.

Prosecutors say 150 Russian hooligans were behind the violence in Marseille.

Six England fans were jailed after Russia played England on Saturday.

Two Russians have been arrested, both for a pitch invasion.

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

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.

“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,” he 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.”

‘Insufficient segregation’

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.

“A minority of English fans were clearly involved in some of those incidents and that is extremely disappointing to us all, but please also recognise that tens of thousands have behaved in a positive way,” he wrote.

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

The FA welcomed an alcohol ban across the host cities, he said, “particularly in Lille on Wednesday where many English fans have been asked to gather ahead of Thursday’s match against Wales in Lens”.

England fans had been advised to stay in Lille because Lens is a small city.

“We have, following consultation with the authorities, advised our supporters without tickets for the match in Lens to congregate there,” Mr 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.”

Uefa is due to deal with its disciplinary proceedings against Russia later.

Charges against Russia are for crowd disturbances, racist behaviour, and setting off fireworks during the game against England in Marseille.

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

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.

A number of Russia supporters appeared to kick and punch fleeing England fans, who were forced to clamber over fencing to escape.

Some 35 people have been injured – four seriously, and most of them England fans – and a total of 20 people have been arrested after three days of disorder in Marseille.

Andrew Bache, from Portsmouth, is in a coma with severe brain injuries after being attacked in France ahead of Saturday’s Euro 2016 game.

Appeal to fans

Commenting on the disorder, Chris Phillips, former head of the government’s National Counter Terrorism Security office, told BBC Radio 5 Live that French police had a “very difficult job” as they were operating while under the threat of terrorism.

But he said “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, senior lecturer in football business at Southampton Solent University, told 5 Live 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.

Clifford Stott, professor of social psychology at Keele University, told the BBC Mr Dyke was right to raise concerns about security arrangements in Lille.

He said French authorities were rejecting research from the past on how to police sporting events and that banning alcohol was not effective.

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

And Wales fans without tickets for Thursday’s Euro 2016 match against England have been urged not to travel to host city Lens or nearby Lille.

But thousands of supporters are expected to follow the action at fan zones in the Place Jean Jaures in Lens and Lille, which is 24 miles (39km) away.

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

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

Five England fans were jailed for throwing bottles at police and a sixth jailed in connection with the violence which broke out over three days in the city of Marseille.

The men, aged from 20 to 41, all appeared at court on Monday and were given sentences of between one and three months.

In a separate incident not related to the disorder in Marseille, a Northern Ireland football fan died after falling from a promenade in Nice following the team’s 1-0 defeat by Poland.

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