Vladimir Putin wonders how '200 Russians' attacked English fans

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Football News

Russia's president Vladimir Putin has called the damage and destruction caused by football fans in France a "disgrace" but questioned how a minority of Russian fans managed to overpower thousands of English.

UEFA hit Russia with a suspended disqualification after their fans stormed past stewards to attack opposing fans during last Saturday's match against the Three Lions.

A firework was set off just before the end of the game, which is believed to have been a signal to begin the attack. While some confronted the Russian 'ultras', many attempted to escape by climbing over fences. Regardless, the Russians showed no mercy and chased them down.


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The scene, which was broadcast on live television, followed much uglier clashes in the centre of Marseille in the buildup to the match. Organised Russian groups were accused of executing vicious attacks on England fans and came prepared with gum shields and MMA gloves.

While Putin has condemned the violence, he could not help but make a joke at the thought of a small number of Russian fans successfully attacking a large group of English fans.

'I truly don't understand'

"The fighting between Russian fans with the English, that is a disgrace," he said at the country's annual economic forum in Saint Petersburg.

"But I truly don't understand how 200 of our fans could beat up several thousand English;" a comment that incited laughter from the gathered officials.

"In any case, the treatment by law enforcement should be the same for all violators."

"I hope that there are sober-minded people among them who really love sport and understand that any violation is not supporting their favourite team but damaging to the team and to sport."

Trained fighters

Despite Putin playing it off as a joke, the attacks were serious enough to put one English fan in a life-threatening state. Andrew Bache suffered cardiac arrest after being beaten to a pulp by Russian hooligans and remains in a critical yet stable condition in hospital.

On a message posted on a fundraising page set up for Mr Bache, his son said: "Have just seen dad for the first time, very briefly as they were taking him into a CT scan. The doctor said he had suffered a cardiac arrest and also has a lung infection plus extensive brain injuries."

It is believed Bache was struck with an iron bar in an unprovoked attack.

Indeed, French police have since claimed that many of Russia's travelling hooligans were very well trained fighters and came prepared for a battle.

Annonymous members of some of these gangs have since claimed they had specifically targeted England fans to try to dethrone them as the world's leading hooligans, a crown that was apparently still theirs from the 1980s.

Three Russian fans have since been handed jail sentences of over two years while a further 20 people will be expelled from the country on Saturday.

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