Clashes erupt in Marseille ahead of Euro England-Russia match

By Reuters/Mitch Phillips   June 12, 2016 | 01:12 am GMT+7
English and Russian soccer fans hurling bottles and chairs clashed with each other and with French riot police in Marseille on Saturday ahead of their teams' opening Euro 2016 match.
Clashes erupt in Marseille ahead of Euro England-Russia match

Tens of thousands of fans descended on Marseille ahead of the evening's match. 

Clashes erupt in Marseille ahead of Euro England-Russia match

There were also scuffles between visiting fans and locals, with some wielding cafe tables as weapons, in a third day of violence in the narrow streets leading off Marseille's Vieux Port (Old Port).

Clashes erupt in Marseille ahead of Euro England-Russia match

Marseille's emergency services said about 10 people were injured during the fracas, including one middle-aged man who was knocked unconscious, and one England supporter had suffered a heart attack.

Clashes erupt in Marseille ahead of Euro England-Russia match

Water cannon trucks moved in and dozens of police armed with batons cordoned off streets, firing tear gas to break up the skirmishes.

Clashes erupt in Marseille ahead of Euro England-Russia match

"I hope they never reach the stadium," said Sabine Bernasconi, the mayor of one of Marseille districts

Clashes erupt in Marseille ahead of Euro England-Russia match

Broken glass and debris littered some roads and alleys near the Queen Victoria pub, focal point of clashes between English, Russian and French fans on Thursday and Friday.

Clashes erupt in Marseille ahead of Euro England-Russia match

The clouds of tear gas produced images of unrest all to similar, though on a much smaller scale, to those in the city 18 years ago when violence flared for two days and nights around England's World Cup game against Tunisia.

Clashes erupt in Marseille ahead of Euro England-Russia match

Local police chief Laurent Nunez said about 300 English fans had been involved and a similar number of Russians. There were no plans to close a beach-side fan zone, he said.

Clashes erupt in Marseille ahead of Euro England-Russia match

Police made six arrests on Saturday, adding to the nine from Friday. Those charged could face trial as early as Monday.

Clashes erupt in Marseille ahead of Euro England-Russia match

Pictures posted online showed Russian fans proudly displaying England flags captured during violent exchanges on Friday while groups of locals also weighed in, particularly with the throwing of bottles.

Clashes erupt in Marseille ahead of Euro England-Russia match

With up to 90,000 fans expected to fill the city, authorities were endeavoring to keep some sort of control and the atmosphere around the stadium and on the route to the fan zones was convivial.

Clashes erupt in Marseille ahead of Euro England-Russia match

There are designated separate routes to approach the Stade Velodrome for the match while the fan zone has been split into two sections, each holding 40,000.

The Queen Victoria and next-door Irish bar were forced to close their doors to England fans late last night, and several other bars in the port area have said they will not be showing the 9 p.m. (1900 GMT) England versus Russia match on TV.

Photos by Reuters/Jean-Paul Pelissie

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