MARSEILLE: Russia fans stormed a section of England supporters inside the stadium moments after a 1-1 draw between the countries at the European Championship on Saturday, ending another day of violence and rioting in the southern French city of Marseille.
England and Russia fans clashed throughout the day at the Old Port district and briefly outside the nearby Stade Velodrome before the match.
Police in the Mediterranean port city fired tear gas and water cannons at fighting supporters in a largely unsuccessful attempt to rein in trouble that authorities said left at least five people injured.
The clashes continued moments after the final whistle, when a large group of Russian fans in one of the stands behind the goal advanced on England supporters in the neighboring area, throwing objects and breaking through a line of stewards.
England fans including young children fled for the exits in panic, with some having to vault railings to escape.
UEFA will open disciplinary proceedings over the violence in Marseille, with Russia facing the stronger sanctions from European soccer’s governing body after the incidents inside the stadium.
“The FA is very disappointed by the terrible scenes that we saw there and of course condemns such behavior,” said FA spokesman Mark Whittle, adding that the body was calling on French authorities “to identify those involved in the troubles and deal with them appropriately and quickly.”
Vasily Berezutsky scored Russia’s equalizer with a looping header in the second minute of injury time, canceling out Eric Dier’s goal from a free kick in the 73rd.
Dier, a defensive midfielder, was a surprising choice to take the free kick for England, but his fierce strike curled into the top corner from the edge of the area.
“It’s disappointing because we were so close to an important and big win in our first game,” Dier said. “I thought it would have been well deserved. Our emotions went from a high to a low pretty quickly.”
England failed to finish a flurry of chances in a dominant first-half performance and faded until Dier stepped up to put England ahead in the Group B match.
However, what happened during the match will be overshadowed by the fan violence before and after.
Amid the broken beer bottles and gray clouds of tear gas that filled the Old Port, families and tourists walked around the picturesque area, sometimes forced to skirt around lines of riot police.
TV footage showed fans throwing chairs yanked from restaurant terraces and scuffling on a staircase, where one man was seen kicking another one down the stairs.
Some fans walked through the city bare-chested and with blood dripping from head wounds.
The trouble that raged all day had largely died down by the time the match started, but reignited just as it finished. Shortly before the final whistle, Russian fans appeared to seize a power cable running around the front of the stand. A group then attacked nearby English supporters.
As England fans fled, Russian fans gave chase, snatching English flags that had been on display. Large numbers of stewards struggled to restore order.
The Russian fans were kept behind while most England fans left, but were soon allowed to leave.
Russia fans also set off flares late in the game.
An Associated Press reporter said it was calm outside the stadium afterward, with Russia and England fans drifting away peacefully.
England coach Roy Hodgson refused to comment in detail on the incidents, but said the players “weren’t particularly aware (of what happened)?and it certainly had no effect on our preparation for the game and our performance in the game.” – AP