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Russian sports minister doesn't rule out new violence at Euro 2016

June 15, 11:38 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Russia is playing its next round-robin match against Slovakia at 4 p.m. Moscow time (1300GMT) on Wednesday at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille
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Russian fans (rear) face English supporters in a street at the Old Port of Marseille, France, 11 June 2016

Russian fans (rear) face English supporters in a street at the Old Port of Marseille, France, 11 June 2016

© EPA/DANIEL DAL ZENNARO

MOSCOW, June 15. /TASS/. Russian fans have been subjected to numerous provocations during the 2016 UEFA Euro Cup in France and disturbances involving them may repeat, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who heads the Russian Football Union, told TASS on Wednesday.

Russia is playing its next round-robin match against Slovakia at 4 p.m. Moscow time (1300GMT) on Wednesday at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille.

"I’m not sure that the disturbances involving the Russian fans will not repeat," Mutko said. "From the very beginning it took such a turn that detentions and unequivocal accusations against the Russian fans come immediately. Our fans are being constantly provoked. Whatever happens - the Russians are immediately guilty."

"Let’s say the Slovaks fought against Wales, and we [the Russians] are guilty," he added. "The information is presented so, and of course, there is no guarantee and confidence that the disturbances will not happen again. Here are 15,000-20,000 Russians in different cities. Most of them want to watch good football."

France to probe if detained Russians are linked to England fan’s beating

France’s authorities will investigate if the detained Russian fans could have been involved in the beating of a Briton in the Marseille clashes, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who heads the Russian Football Union, told TASS on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, local law enforcement officials stopped a bus near Cannes carrying Russian football fans on the way to Lille to see their home team’s second group stage match. Alexander Shprygin, the head of the Union of Russian Fans (URF), earlier said the Russian fans signed papers that they were detained for 24 hours as part of an investigation. He said Marseille’s prosecutor decided to arrest everyone, including women and drivers, as the health of a Briton injured in the Marseille disturbances has sharply deteriorated.

"The fans have been detained for 48 hours - this is the deadline. We offer them all kind of support - consular and judicial, but still this has been linked to the opened criminal case. All of them [detained persons] should undergo the respective procedures - identification and etc., and then they will be released if it is found out that they are not linked to the serious condition of the British fan," Mutko said.

"The prosecutor of this city [Marseille] will later decide if they should go home or continue watching the championship," the minister said.

Speaking on if the fans’ detention is justified, he said: "Here [in France] there is some anti-Russian sentiment. UEFA is unequivocal about the decision, there’s the pressure of the media - this is already a kind of a trend that the Russians are guilty. In fact, I have no data that we are definitely guilty," he said.

"I was in Marseille, and I drove round the city center intentionally and saw how the British fans were behaving, and no one just notices this, they were the masters of the city, there were tens of thousands of them," Mutko added.

A number of clashes were reported between foreign football fans and local residents as the major European football tournament kicked off on Friday. Most heated developments took place on the sidelines of the group stage match between team England and Russia as numerous clashes between the fans of both national teams erupted in Marseille on Thursday and culminated on the match day on Saturday. Law enforcers resorted to tear gas and smoke pellets to disperse the brawls.

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