French police make arrests as clashes between rival fans of Euro 2016 teams fight in port city, leaving 10 injured.
With up to 90,000 fans expected to fill Marseille on Saturday, authorities were working to control the crowd [EPA]With up to 90,000 fans expected to fill Marseille on Saturday, authorities were working to control the crowd [EPA]
At least 10 people have been injured, one critically, after English and Russian football fans clashed with each other and with French riot police in the port city of Marseille.
AP news agency reported late on Saturday that Russian fans attacked their English rivals, after their countries’ opening match ended in a draw.
Violence had already broken out prior to the match, with some wielding cafe tables as weapons, in a third day of violence in the narrow streets leading off Marseille’s old port.
Police made six arrests on Saturday, adding to the nine from Friday, and those charged could face trial as early as Monday.
Al Jazeera footage of one incident shows a man smashing a chair against another man, who then fell off a concrete flight of steps.
Marseille’s emergency services said among those who were injured were one middle-aged man who was knocked unconscious, while one England supporter had suffered a heart attack.
Police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Some fans walked through the city bare-chested and with blood dripping from head wounds.
“Once again, as over the last 30 years, an international football competition has been the scene of clashes between violent people claiming to be supporters of their national team,” Bernard Cazeneuve, French interior minister, said in a statement.
‘Vicious and intense’
France beefs up security for Euro 2016
Al Jazeera’s David Chater, reporting from Marseille, described the fighting as “intense” with rocks, bricks and beer bottles being thrown and people exchanging punches.
“It’s been a long, hot day of violence here in Marseille,” he said. “There were very vicious and intense fights breaking out everywhere.”
Chater also reported witnessing a Russian fan knocking out “completely unconscious” a man walking from the market.
With up to 90,000 fans expected to fill the city, authorities were working to keep some sort of control of the crowd.
Europe’s football organisation UEFA said on Saturday it “firmly condemns” the street battles.
“People engaging in such violent acts have no place in football,” a UEFA spokesman said.
The England-Russia game was one of five classified as “high-risk” for hooliganism by tournament organisers and Marseille residents said the violence should have been expected.
“It’s the English, what do you expect? We know what it’s going to be like when they come here,” said Laurent Ferrero, a pizzeria owner. “In 1998 it was the same thing.”
Meanwhile, in the city of Lyon, four French men aged between 20 and 24 were briefly detained following a drunken fight in a bar where England fans had been drinking, police said.
The month-long tournament, which kicked off on Friday, is expected to attract around 1.5 million tourists at 10 venues around France.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies