Clashes took place late Wednesday in Lille on the sidelines of the Euro, after a day marked by new arrests related to abuse of Marseille and diplomatic tensions between France and Russia.
Around 11.30pm, the police fired tear gas in the direction of some 200 English fans, alcoholic and singing near the Lille Flandres station, noted journalists from AFP. A lot of them scattered, while many supporters, french majority, leaving the fan zone nearby after the match France-Albania , played in Marseille and relayed on giant screens. There have also been some clashes between English fans and French fans.
A strengthened police presence
Police presence was impressive. More than 3,900 officers were mobilized on Wednesday in the North, more than 1,900 police officers from the Public Security, CRS and gendarmes. “We sang and we were quiet all day and then it overflows” , regretted Tim, a English supporter who did not understand such use of force. First clashes took place in the late afternoon between security forces and British fans. The situation seemed to cool down to 0.30 am in the city centre, according to several journalists from AFP. In total, since Wednesday morning, the security forces have conducted 36 arrests. 16 people were hospitalised after clashes.
Two-risk matches follow each other in two days in the region. The first match, Russia-Slovakia, which took place Wednesday afternoon in Lille, then on Thursday you have England – Wales, which will be played in Lens, 35 km away. The authorities are desperate to avoid urban guerrilla scenes that overshadowed the start of the Euro, with violent clashes between Russian hooligans and English fans on Saturday in Marseille. Six Russians involved in the violence have now been arrested in the North , announced on Wednesday by the prefecture.
On Tuesday, 43 other Russian supporters who were on the way to Lille were arrested in Mandelieu-la-Napoule (Alpes-Maritimes), after the investigation into the violence in Marseille. The arrest of the 43 Russians, eleven of which have since been released on Wednesday caused tensions between Moscow and Paris. it is “absolutely unacceptable incident” , thundered the minister Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov before the Duma (lower house of Parliament). on the road in Germany, his french counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault, assured late in the day that Russian supporters were subject to the same rules as other and that “in the French courts they will be treated in the same way”. “This is not pointing fingers, no particular country” , he insisted. Moscow has also summoned the Ambassador of France Jean-Maurice Ripert, to protest. “the stirring up of anti-Russian feelings (for the euro) is likely to significantly worsen the atmosphere of Russian-French relations” , threatened the Foreign Ministry.
The 43 Russians arrested were taken into custody and transferred to Marseille on Tuesday . Eleven of them have been released and the thirty-two were still in custody on Wednesday afternoon, and are allowed to be detained for a maximum of 48 hours.
Chpryguine Alexander, president of the Association of Russian fans and collaborator deputy Igor Lebedev, a member of the far-right LDPR party, is said on Twitter to be among them, but its presence has never been confirmed by the French authorities.
Russian hooligans, “highly trained” by the authorities, were at the forefront during brawls in Marseille on Saturday, but no one had been arrested, which earned criticism to the law enforcement. At Lille, the first clashes took place from late Tuesday afternoon. Those arrested, three Russians and a Ukrainian are subject to an order of deportation, according to the prefecture. Two were arrested because of the clashes, two for weapon possession.
However, after the Russia-Slovakia match, it ended without violence in the stadium, despite a lighted smoke then quickly extinguished after Russian goal. Russia, host country of the 2018 World Cup, is threatened with disqualification by UEFA to any new incident in a stage involving its fans.
Far from this electric atmosphere, France, host country exploded with joy with supporters throughout the country, including the 85,000 gathered in the fan zone of the Champ de Mars in Paris as she became the first team qualified for the knockout stage of the tournament with victory against Albania (2-0).