Football

Trouble marred the end of England's game with Russia in Marseille.

England supporters' chief urges rethink over Euro 2016 policing tactics

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Supporters' chief Kevin Miles has called for urgent action to be taken in a bid to stop fan violence on the streets of France after England and Russia were threatened with explusion from Euro 2016.

Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn is treating the threat from European football's governing body UEFA with the "utmost seriousness", after ugly clashes in Marseille marred the build-up to Saturday's eagerly-anticipated Group B clash between England and Russia. English, Russian and French fans were involved in trouble over three days.

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Fighting in the Old Port area continued inside the Stade Velodrome on Saturday night and a number of supporters were left injured as a result of the incidents, with one England fan in a critical condition in hospital.

UEFA was swift to open disciplinary proceedings against the Football Union of Russia for alleged crowd disturbances, racist behaviour and the setting off of fireworks towards the end of the game. England avoided any charge, but the executive committee of European football's governing body has warned it is ready to impose the ultimate sanction on one or both national associations if similar trouble rears its head again.

Football Supporters' Federation chief executive Miles has defended English fans in the wake of the trouble and urged police to arrest trouble-makers rather than chase crowds away with tear gas and water cannons.

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Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Miles said: "I think a lot of English fans have had a very distressing and difficult experience here. At France 98 there were groups of English fans who came here looking for trouble.

"That's not been the case here, there has been behaviour among English fans involving alcohol and unpleasant singing, some very boorish behaviour, but that's not the main story here; if that's all it had been then we wouldn't be talking about the threat of exclusion from the tournament.

"What's different here is the violence that's taken place. I can honestly say that none of the violent incidents that have taken place, the attacks on fans, have been initiated by the English. What we have seen is groups of locals getting together and Russian hooligans getting together with the deliberate intention of attacking English fans while they've been enjoying their eating and their drinking."

England are next in action against Wales in Lens on Thursday, with some supporters staying in Lille where large numbers of Russian fans are likely to be based for their next match against Slovakia on Wednesday.

"I am very concerned," Miles added.

"I have seen some very unpleasant scenes. Some of the Russians have clearly come intent on violence. I have watched Russian fans putting on gumshields, martial-art gloves, covering their faces with masks, it's horrifying to watch.

"I am a bit concerned at the policing, because it's been an intervention largely of water cannons and tear gas. First of all that's not very discriminate, it impacts on people who are entirely innocent and it means that every one of the Russians involved have got away scot-free; there have been no arrests, no protection of the English fans and those Russians who have been involved over the last few days will feel free to travel to Lille and probably think they'll get away with it again.

"We do need some urgent action now, look for the perpetrators, regardless of nationality, and remove them from the scene."

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Topics:
Euro 2016
Football

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