Russia striker: English and Welsh have provoked fans

Date published: Sunday 19th June 2016 7:38

Russia fans

Russia striker Fyodor Smolov has accused Wales supporters of provoking his country’s fans ahead of the two sides’ Euro 2016 meeting in Toulouse.

The Group B clash between Wales and Russia on Monday night has been upgraded from medium risk to high risk following violent scenes in Marseille and Lille.

More than 600 extra police officers have been drafted in to ensure security at the Stade de Toulouse, in addition to the 1,500 already due to work at the game.

Russia received a suspended disqualification for fan order in relation to offences of crowd disturbances, use of fireworks and racist behaviour inside Marseille’s Stade Velodrome in the 1-1 draw with England on June 11.

There were also disturbances in Lille when Russia played Slovakia last Wednesday, the night before England played Wales in nearby Lens.

And Smolov, 26, had no doubt who was to blame for those incidents, accusing England and Wales fans of provoking Russians.

“I’m not really going to make any statement (over Russia fans), but I’d like the supporters to go on backing us,” said Smolov.

“As for everything that goes on around us, there’s a number of videos that have been uploaded on the web and clearly the English really did provoke them, and indeed the Welsh fans.

“Clearly these events mustn’t go on in football stands.

“But if people really want to go out with the intention of scrapping, they should fight elsewhere.

“They shouldn’t do so in the stadium, we want to have support in the stadium.”

The prefect of the Haute-Garonne region, Pascal Mailhos, said there was a risk of hooliganism and cited recent disorder between supporters elsewhere in the country as he announced the risk has been heightened.

French prosecutors blamed a hardcore of “extremely well-trained” and “hyper violent” Russian fans for much of the violence that erupted in Marseille last weekend.

Meanwhile, Wayne Nash, the Welsh FA’s national security officer, told The Sunday Times there was a “degree of nervousness” about supporter safety surrounding the game and added: “We’ve all witnessed the scenes that happened in Marseille.

“It was shocking. The actions are deplorable.”

On the pitch, there is expected to be a tense atmosphere with qualification for the last 16 at stake.

Wales probably need a point to progress, while nothing other than a victory would see Russia through to the knock-out stages.

Russia have targeted Gareth Bale as Wales’ danger man, but coach Leonid Slutsky says he will resist the temptation to man-mark the Real Madrid forward who has already scored twice at Euro 2016.

“It is hard to man-mark footballing superstars,” said Slutsky, who identified Bale and Aaron Ramsey as the major obstacles to Russia reaching the last 16.

“Bale does does like to roam into different areas of the pitch, so we will try to neutralise his threat zonally.

“The Welsh national side have two top stars, two top players, and their attacking play is built on the interactions of these two players.

“But they have a decent side and play a bit more on the break.

“What their two matches so far tell us is that the game will be tight, fine margins will again decide the result and I hope they will fall for us.”

Asked if Wales were favourites as they beat Slovakia while Russia had lost to the same opponents, Slutsky suggested that was not the case.

“Wales lost to England whereas we drew against the English, so perhaps we’re the favourites,” Slutsky said.

Russia are in the same position as they were at the 2014 World Cup, having lost one and drawn one of their opening two matches under Fabio Capello.

They drew the final game, 1-1 against Algeria, on that occasion and went out of the competition.

But Slutsky said: “This is a new day, a new match, a new situation, so it’s a new chapter in Russian football.

“You might have huge experience, you might have played matches like this, but that doesn’t necessarily give you a miracle cure to ascertain how you’re going to play.”

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