England and Russia are facing steep sanctions for violent behavior from their fans over the weekend— including a premature end to both of their Euro 2016 campaigns.
Clashes between English and Russian fans in Marseille dominated the news on Saturday, at points relegating in-progress matches to mere sub-plots. Streets were shut down as both sets of fans threw glass bottles and hurled outdoor furniture at each other. Police struggled to contain the violence, which resulted in arrests, injuries, and one England fan in a coma.
UEFA stated their hands were tied for those incidents as they were too far away from the stadium. Police investigations are ongoing.
The violence continued inside the Stade Vélodrome. Following the 1-1 draw between the two sides, Russian fans stormed the England areas and attacked fans. English fans were reported to have attempted to flee but the Russians chased after them. Several fans and observers later reported that the police presence was woefully inadequate and that there was no meaningful segregation between both sets of fans. Rebekah Vardy, the wife of England and Leicester City forward Jamie Vardy, later said she was hit with tear gas while trying to make her way out of the stands.
UEFA released a statement afterward saying that the violence was unacceptable and that both teams could be expelled from the tournament if the behavior of their fans was not brought under control.
“The UEFA executive committee would like to express its disgust for the violent clashes which occurred in the city of Marseille. Such unacceptable behaviour by so-called supporters of the national teams of England and Russia has no place in football, a sport we must protect and defend.”
Martin Glenn, the FA’s chief executive, concurred with UEFA’s admonition and said England fans need to comport themselves better.
“Violent scenes like those witnessed over the weekend in Marseille have no place in football, nor society as a whole. We want people – fans and locals – to feel safe and enjoy a festival atmosphere at the Euros and we will continue to work closely with all the relevant authorities to achieve that.”
Russian football officials, on the other hand, expressed a different sentiment.
“I don’t see anything wrong with the fans fighting. Quite the opposite, well done lads, keep it up!” said Igor Lebedev, a member of the Russian Football Union’s executive committee.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Markin, a senior Russian law enforcement official, commented on the incident by engaging in some mild homophobia.
While UEFA threatened to ban both teams, Russia will be subject to disciplinary proceedings from UEFA while England escaped charges.
Russia are set to play Slovakia next on Wednesday in Lille while England are preparing for their historic clash with Wales on Thursday in Lens.