England manager Roy Hodgson and captain Wayne Rooney have pleaded with supporters to be on the their best behaviour at Euro 2016 after the team was threatened with disqualification.
Governing body Uefa on Sunday warned it would not hesitate to throw England and Russia out of the competition following the violent clashes between fans that marred the teams’ 1-1 draw in Marseille on Saturday.
Uefa’s pointed threat put the onus firmly on the Football Association to control England’s travelling support, resulting Monday’s direct plea ahead of the Group B showdown with Wales in Lens on Thursday.
“As England manager, I am obviously very concerned about the threat which is now hanging over us and the sanctions that could be imposed upon the England team,” said Hodgson.
“We worked very hard to get here and we really desperately want to stay in the competition. We appreciate your support at the matches of course, but I am appealing to you to stay out of trouble and to try and make certain that these threats that are being issued are never carried out and we will be able to attempt to do the best we can to stay in this competition by football means.”
Rooney said: “I’d like to thank the England fans for the great support at the stadium against Russia. Now we have a big game coming up against Wales. I’d like to ask the fans: please, if you don’t have a ticket, don’t travel. And for fans with tickets: be safe, be sensible and continue with your great support for the players.”
Fans jailed, Russian hooligans accused
The pleas came as five England supporters were jailed for their part in fighting in downtown Marseille in the build-up to the Russia match. Seven English fans remain in hospital, one in an induced coma.
French prosecutors identified 150 Russian hooligans as responsible for much of the violence but said they evaded arrest. “These people were well prepared for ultra-rapid, ultra-violent action,” said prosecutor Brice Robin. “These are extremely well-trained people.”
Lens decided last month to impose a ban on selling alcohol 24 hours before England’s match against Wales, and the French government has urged other host cities to follow suit.
Uefa is on Tuesday set to decide whether to punish Russia after some of its fans invaded and attacked an England section of the Stade Velodrome during Saturday’s game.