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Russia will be disqualified in more soccer fan violence

Russia will be disqualified in more soccer fan violence
Posted at 4:06 AM, Jun 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-14 08:13:25-04

PARIS (AP) — Russia will be disqualified from the European Championship if there is more violence by their fans inside stadiums in France.

UEFA sent the message Tuesday in a disciplinary panel ruling to punish assaults by Russians who charged a section of England supporters after the teams' opening match in Marseille.

Russia will be expelled if its fans attack rival fans or stadium security staff at its two remaining Group B matches, or later at Euro 2016 if the team advances.

Russia's "disqualification is suspended until the end of the tournament," UEFA said. "Such suspension will be lifted if incidents of a similar nature (crowd disturbances) happen inside the stadium at any of the remaining matches of the Russian team during the tournament."

Russia plays Slovakia in Lille on Wednesday and Wales in Toulouse next Monday.

The incidents have shown Russia's problem with hooligans before it hosts the 2018 World Cup in 11 cities.

A spokesman for Russian president Vladimir Putin condemned the "rampages in Marseille," while noting that fans from other countries were involved in disorder in france.

"It's absolutely unacceptable, and we certainly expect our citizens to respect the country's laws," spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a conference call on Tuesday.

UEFA also fined the Russian soccer federation 150,000 euros ($169,000). The charges were for crowd disturbances, fans aiming racial insults at black England players and setting off fireworks during the game.

UEFA can punish soccer bodies only for the actions of their ticketed fans in and around stadiums.

Russia and England played a 1-1 draw amid rising tension after several days of clashes between rival fans, French youths and local police.

Though England fans were at the center of the first skirmishes, the violence levels increased when Russian fans arrived closer to the matchday.

After the final whistle, a group of Russia fans in a poorly segregated area behind one goal stormed a section of England supporters. The Russians threw objects and broke through a line of stewards, forcing the England fans — including young children— to flee for the exits in panic, with some having to vault railings to escape.

A prosecutor Marseille on Monday blamed "highly trained" Russian thugs for the worst of the violence in the cobbled streets of the city's Old Port and around the Stade Velodrome.

Russian fans have caused the worst violence inside stadiums for the second straight European Championship.

Among the incidents back in Euro 2012, stadium security staff in Wroclaw, Poland, were assaulted by Russian fans at Russia's opening 4-1 victory over the Czech Republic.

Four years ago, UEFA deferred a punishment of ordering Russia to play three home Euro 2016 qualifying games in empty stadiums. The stadium ban would have been activated if fan violence during qualifying matches was repeated.

UEFA had initially threatened Russia with a six-point deduction in Euro 2016 qualifying but that was removed when the Russian Football Union appealed to UEFA. A fine of 120,000 euros ($150,000) was maintained.

Also in 2012, UFEA fined the Russian soccer body 30,000 euros ($37,500) for fans making monkey noise as racial insults aimed at Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie, who is black.

In a separate Euro 2012 incident, UEFA charged and fined Russia for a fan carrying a national flag across the field after a 1-1 draw against Poland.

That heavily policed match in Warsaw was played on June 12 — Russia's national day — after fights in the city as rival fans went to the stadium.