The battle of Marseilles: hooligans bring violence to England’s Euro 2016 clash

At least two England supporters were left fighting for life and another left "seriously" injured with some 20 or more people being treated in hospital, ahead of the Euro 2016 opener between England and Russia at Stade Velodrome. The match ended in a 1-1 draw.

French police in heavy riot gear were forced to fire tear-gas and try to split warring supporters during hours of running fights in a main square and side alleys.

Dog units and specially trained snatch squads were also used to pull fans away from each other.

Thousands of pounds worth of damage was also caused with windows smashed, cars and bars wrecked and locals with families left running for cover.

Chairs from outside bars and cafes were smashed apart and used as weapons. Some were still covered in blood as night began to fall. Stunned onlookers said the area looked "like a war zone".

One England fan suffered ‘horrific’ head injuries amid claims that Russian hooligans known as ‘ultras’, armed with knives and metal poles, had ambushed rival fans.

Fans were beaten to the floor and repeatedly kicked in the head in shameful images shared across the world on TV and social media.

In one of the worst incidents, a man was seen being kicked and stamped on the head as he lay prostrate on the ground, apparently already unconscious.

Another being treated in hospital had been slashed across the face, police said.

Some six people were initially arrested before the match itself.

Reports suggested later than a French police officer was involved in administering CPR to a injured victim. A police spokesman said a man was resuscitated by officers, but gave no further details.

Another man was reportedly in a critical condition following clashes after going into cardiac arrest. Paramedics were attempting to revive him on the pavement.

Riot police eventually had to deploy water cannon on rioters as fights and bottle throwing broke in Marseilles' Old Port.

The violence involved large groups of England fans apparently goaded by Russian and French gangs, some said to be clad in black.

England fan Michael Tashall from London said: "We were in the Old Port town and the Russian ultras ganged up with the Marseilles ultras and attacked the English supporters that were sitting there drinking beers. You go into town now and there are English supporters with blood pouring from their head from the Russians' attacks.

"They are outrageous. The World Cup in Russia should be taken away from them. It is an outrage."

Social media was awash with footage of the brutal violence.

Other England fans also complained of being hunted down by packs of marauding Russians.

But the French pointed the finger of blame at the English who numbered around 25,000 in the area against around 11,000 Russian in the city.

The Marseille senator, Samia Ghali, said she had forbidden her teenage children to go out on Saturday night because she feared more violence in the streets after clashes the previous two days. She said: “The violence spoiled what should have been a party atmosphere.

"When you see drunken hooligans hurling bottles, I think you realise that it's necessary to impose restrictions on the sale of alcohol to make it easier to maintain order.”

Many bar owners in the Old Port area of Marseille refused to show the England versus Russia match in protest.

A senior politician in Marseille has demanded that the UK pays towards the costs of the clean-up operation after the trouble on the city's streets.

French MP Patrick Mennucci, said: "What has happened with the English fans is unbearable and extremely shocking. The people of Marseille have really despaired about this unacceptable behaviour."

European football's governing body UEFA condemned the ongoing violence and in a statement said: "UEFA firmly condemns the incidents in Marseille. People engaging in such violent acts have no place in football."

Earlier, UK shadow home secretary Andy Burnham described the behaviour of England fans as "embarrassing" in light of the terrorism threat to France.

Dave Tomlinson, from the Football Supporters' Federation, who is in Marseille, had earlier said it was "disappointing to see any problems".

But he added: "We understand from the reports that it's a very small minority of England fans that have been involved.

"We also understand that unfortunately there has been quite a lot of provocation from the French and also the Russian elements that are in the area."

About 10 football hooligans from the Paris gang, the Boulogne Boys, had reportedly joined Russian Ultras in Marseille

Eyewitnesses said a group of Russian hooligans arrived before fighting began.

During one skirmish, one English fan, concerned at someone filming said: "What's my problem? What's my problem? We're just being attacked."



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