Joey Barton claims he encountered Russian hooligans before England game

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On the basis of the past five days, there’s a real chance that Euro 2016 will be remembered as much for chaotic scenes of violence off the pitch as the football on it.

England and Russia fans were involved in clashes in Marseille over the weekend and UEFA have warned both national teams that they risk being thrown out of the tournament if anything similar happens over the coming weeks.

Five England fans were jailed on Monday while a group of 50 Russian hooligans have reportedly been deported from France.


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One of those unfortunate enough to run into a group of Russians over the weekend was none other than Joey Barton, a man who once raised eyebrows by describing himself - without irony - as a pacifist.

The 33-year-old, who is currently working as a radio pundit during the tournament, has described the ‘scary’ moment he bumped into a group of masked hooligans in the French city where he lived while playing for Olympique de Marseille during the 2012-13 campaign.

Barton describes encounter with Russian gang

"I ran into the Russians in action myself earlier in the day and it was a scary sight,” Barton told the Daily Record. “They were clearly highly organised. They operated like a military group.

"I was with two of my pals, one of whom had his young lad with him - a five-year-old boy. We could sense there was going to be trouble so I thought I'd try to lead them away using the back streets that I know from living here.

"We used underground Metros to try to get away from the problem areas but as I came up the stairs of one station I just ran into this gang. They weren't even in the main streets, they were running round the back streets because they were trying to cut the English fans off.

"But thankfully, they weren't interested in us. There was 40 or 50 of them and they were looking for groups of England fans. They weren't picking people off in ones or twos. Fortunately, my mates and I weren't wearing any England kit, just the little lad. We walked right through the middle of them and there was no animosity or hostility."

Lucky escape for Barton...

Other England fans weren’t as lucky.

Some suffered serious injuries, including Andrew Bache, who was hit several times with an iron bar.

He was left in a coma and remains in a serious condition, but thankfully his injuries are no longer said to be life-threatening.

Who is more to blame for the violence in Marseille? English fans or Russian fans? Have your say by leaving a comment below.

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Wayne Rooney
Joey Barton
Euro 2016
Russia National Football Team
England Football

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