England fans have been targeted by so-called Russian ‘ultras’ during the opening week of the European Championships.
The two groups were involved in violent clashes in Marseille last weekend - leading to six England supporters receiving prison sentences and several individuals suffering serious injuries - while there was also some trouble, albeit on a smaller scale, in Lille on Tuesday night.
According to intelligence sources, per the Independent, Russian gangs have specifically targeted England fans because they want to remove them as the perceived “top dogs” of football hooliganism.
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The group of Russian ‘ultras’ involved in Marseille were clearly intent on causing trouble.
One of the organised group even strapped a GoPro camera to himself in order to record the footage, before editing it and posting the video online.
Russian ultras saw English fans as a 'challenge'
According to the Independent, the clashes between the two groups have been a result of “English fans responding to provocation, rather than initiating trouble.”
This seems to fall in line with what the majority of England fans in France have reported over the past week.
The Russian ‘ultras’ saw the English as a challenge and a “force to be toppled”, according to Independent sources, prior to the tournament.
It’s understood that groups linked to Russia’s four leading clubs - CSKA Moscow, Spartak Moscow, Lokomotiv Moscow and Zenit St Petersburg - have combined to form the core threat.
Russian group deported from France this week
French police agreed that 150 “well-trained” Russian hooligans were behind the violence in Marseille; however, none of them have ended up in prison.
A significant group were, though, deported from the Euro 2016 host nation earlier this week.
Furthermore, UEFA have handed Russia suspended disqualification from the tournament, warning them that they will be kicked out of there is any further trouble from their fans over the coming weeks.
They were also fined £119,000, due to their supporters’ behaviour after the final whistle of Saturday’s 1-1 draw against England at the Stade Velodrome.
A group of Russian fans made their way into the England end and fans of the Three Lions - including women and children - were subsequently forced to flee for safety.
Appealing to the Russian supporters to be on their best behaviour, head coach Leonid Slutsky was quoted as saying by BBC Sport on Tuesday: "We are sure our supporters will not do the same and will not give any reasons to disqualify our team.”
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