Russia turns fire on England after threat of expulsion from Euro 2016 looms larger

Frank Dalleres
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Euro 2016 - Russia Press Conference
Russia coach Leonid Slutsky pointed the finger at England fans (Source: Getty)

Russia’s coach and players have hit out at England after they were pushed closer to expulsion from Euro 2016 over the violence wreaked by dozens of their fans at Saturday’s Group B match in Marseille.

Governing body Uefa has fined the Russian Football Union €150,000 (£119,000) and warned that any repeat of their fighting, racism or use of pyrotechnics would see the team kicked out of the tournament.

Uefa’s disciplinary body emphasised that Tuesday’s sanction related solely to the behaviour of Russia supporters inside stadia. Russia, like England, are also facing disqualification if there is any repeat of the conflict between both sets of fans or the police during the European Championship.

Read more: Hodgson and Rooney plead with fans to clean up act

Russia coach Leonid Slutsky argued that their supporters had been unfairly tarnished and that England’s were also guilty, while striker Artem Dzyuba said the blame was “50-50” and depicted complaints against his countrymen as part of a plot to stop them hosting the 2018 World Cup.

Slutsky said: “We do not know what happened on the streets, but when the Russian national anthem was played and all the people were shouting, the English supporters, this was something not ethical at all.

"And all the gestures we received when we were on our bus on the way to the stadium from all these English supporters.”

A group of Russia supporters, some covering their faces, invaded and attacked an England section of the Stade Velodrome after the final whistle in the 1-1 draw.

The incident followed days of fighting in downtown Marseille involving followers of England and Russia, locals and police. Five England fans were jailed and one was left in a coma.

Dzyuba said the British media had painted England fans “like angels” and questioned the motives behind criticism of Russia, who are set to stage the next World Cup.

“You have to be objective and it’s 50-50. In every conflict, there are two parts. Don’t say that only Russians are at fault,” he said.

“We can see the things British media are talking about, talking about the World Cup 2018 and they’re saying they have to take it away from Russia.” He added that ulterior motives were “probable”.

Further clashes in Lille, where Russia play Slovakia on Wednesday, are feared. England fans have been advised to stay in Lille as accommodation is scarce in nearby Lens, there they meet Wales on Thursday.

French authorities have launched a crackdown on Russian fans after admitting 150 hooligans had evaded arrest. Dozens have since been deported while another 40 are being hunted.

Lens is due to impose an alcohol ban for the 24 hours before England’s game against Wales, while British police have agreed to join their French colleagues in an attempt to keep the peace.