Russian hooligans came to France with the sole intention of proving their strength over England fans, according to one man involved in recent encounters.
The two national teams met in Marseille in their opening group game of Euro 2016 on Saturday but the match was marred by scenes of violence in both the city centre and the Stade Velodrome.
Organised attacks, in which Russians were alleged to have worn gumshields and MMA gloves, has left a number of England fans in hospital, some with life-changing injuries.
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In the aftermath, attention has turned to the lack of organisation from the police and Euro 2016 officials, both of whom knew that gangs were planning to cause trouble in a city that is already troubled by football hooliganism.
And it is fans like Vladimir, who spoke the Associated French Press (AFP), who arrived in the beautiful French city intent on causing destruction. In a disturbing interview, Vladimir refers to violence as a sport and called the England fans "girls" for not putting up a proper fight.
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Worryingly, he also claimed that French police stood by and watched until the fighting began, claiming that the were "interested" in seeing Russian fans fight the English.
The Russian hooligan, a public relations manager and a father of two, told AFP:
"It doesn’t matter which city fans come from or which team they support. It’s important that we’re all from Russia. We are going to fight the English.
"The English always say they are the main football hooligans. We went to show that the English are girls.
"Fans or hooligans from Russia are mainly younger, aged 20-30 and at home most of them are into sports. They do sports like boxing or all kinds of martial arts.
"The aim is to come and prove that English fans aren’t hooligans, they don’t know how to fight. A lot of Russian guys come especially with this aim. It’s like sport.
"The English use chairs and bottles (to fight), the Russian style is only fists. We don’t have a desire to kill or injure. There is a desire to show our strength.
"I got the sense it was interesting for (the French police) to see the Russians fight the English. They intervened at the last moment."
French investigators have claimed that as many as 150 Russians may have been involved in violent clashes between the two sets of fans although only England fans have been arrested.
Indeed, two England fans have already been handed jail sentences by French prosecutors while the media awaits the first Russian to be brought to justice.
Alexander Booth and Ian Hepworth were sentenced to two and three months respectively for throwing bottles at policeman. They were also banned from entering France for the next two and three years.
Before being dealt with, Booth told the court: “I would like to say sorry to the police and to the people and city of Marseille. This is not like me; I’m not a violent person. I love my job and my family. I’ve never been involved in football hooliganism.
“I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
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