Street Brawling Fans Distract from Players on Pitch
(CNN) — Packs of Russian and English football fans clashed in Marseille, France, on Saturday — in a third straight day of battles — before their two teams met in a match at the Euro 2016 championship.
Police in riot gear fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowds, whose members hurled bottles and other objects at officers, slightly injuring several.
The French Interior Ministry issued a statement lamenting the violence and announced steps being taken to keep hooligans out of the country during the UEFA European Championship.
The British government retained the passports of the 3,000 people considered hooligans, stopping them from coming to France during the whole competition, at the request of the French authorities.
“There have been 3,000 entry denials by the Minister of Interior, based on lists of people who are banned from stadiums in different countries participating in the competition, or individuals likely to disrupt the order in national territory,” the Interior Ministry said.
As of Friday, overall violence has resulted in the arrests of five British and four French individuals and five people, other than police, being injured, including one person seriously hurt, said Mathieu Duroselle, spokesperson for the chief of police in Marseille.
The badly injured man is British, age 51, Duroselle said.
On Thursday, around midnight, violence also broke out on the Vieux-Port between English supporters and groups of people from Marseille.
The Union of European Football Associations, the administrative body for association football in Europe, issued a statement condemning the street fights.
“People engaging in such violent acts have no place in football,” UEFA said.