Russia are facing serious UEFA sanctions after being charged with crowd disorder and racist behaviour following the sickening scenes that overshadowed Saturday’s Euro 2016 clash with England.
Ugly clashes in Marseille marred the build-up to the eagerly-anticipated Group B clash, with English, Russian and French fans involved in trouble over three days.
There had been a calmer atmosphere inside the Stade Velodrome, only for more unseemly behaviour to spoil an entertaining 1-1 draw in which Vasili Berezutsky’s late header cancelled out an Eric Dier free-kick.
UEFA has taken swift action and announced on Sunday morning it had opened disciplinary proceedings against the Football Union of Russia, two years from hosting the World Cup.
European football’s governing body handed down charges for alleged crowd disturbances, racist behaviour and the setting off of fireworks by Russia fans, with the case to be dealt with by the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body on Tuesday.
England have avoided any charges and UEFA confirmed before kick-off that incidents outside the Stade Velodrome perimeter fell outside its remit.
— Simon Peach (@SimonPeach) June 12, 2016
Following the days of trouble, England’s head of media relations Mark Whittle read a statement in the post-press conference.
“We regret the trouble in Marseille today,” he said. “The FA is very disappointed about the terrible scenes of disorder and of course condemns such behaviour.
“It is now in the hands of the relevant authorities to identify those involved in trouble and deal with them appropriately and quickly.
“At this time the FA urges England supporters to act in a respectful manner and support England in the right way.”
Before the match, as many as 20 England fans were injured, with reportedly several seriously hurt, in bloody clashes between rival fans around the Old Port area.
French police used a water cannon and tear gas on rioters as fist fights and bottle throwing broke out – incidents condemned strongly before kick-off by UEFA
“People engaging in such violent acts have no place in football,” European football’s governing body said in a statement.
“UEFA can only take disciplinary action for incidents which happen within the stadium perimeter.”
Russia striker Artem Dzyuba made a point of thanking Russian fans after the match.
That was a curious and potentially provocative stance given the fact he cannot have failed to see flares or heard the firecracker, even if later events escaped his attention.
“I thank all our fans. It was a really warm atmosphere tonight,” he told UEFA.
“We used everything here to equalise and this is also down to them.”
Russian manager Leonid Slutsky and England counterpart Roy Hodgson were was asked for their thoughts on the disturbances but both felt unable to offer substantial comment.
“We were focused on the game, so I’m not really up to speed with what’s been going on outside the stadium,” said Slutsky.
“But, clearly, that (violence) is not good to go hand in hand with football.”
Hodgson, before deferring to Whittle for the official association statement, said: “Those matters are FA matters and not football coaching matters, but we weren’t particularly aware of them and they didn’t affect our preparations or performance.”
Rebekah Vardy, the new wife of England striker Jamie, had earlier tweeted angrily about the treatment of fans prior to the match.
“That has to be up there with the worst experience EVER at an away game! Teargassed for no reason, caged and treated like animals! Shocking!” she posted.
“I witnessed this with my own eyes! I can’t comment on things I didn’t see but what I got caught up in was horrific and uncalled for!
“And this happened before the game even kicked off!”
Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko attempted to downplay the incidents inside Stade Velodrome and was quoted by Russia Today as saying: “There was no clash…that’s being exaggerated, in fact everything is fine here.
“When the match ended, there was no barrier between the fans. The British were upset, of course, but it all quickly dissolved.
“Such matches should be organized properly. It is necessary to separate the fans. The bad thing is that there were firecrackers and flares.”