The Euro 2016 soccer tournament has been overshadowed by massive, and potentially deadly, hooligan fights off the field.
France has deployed 90,000 military personnel and police officers to prevent a terrorist attack during the Euros. Four days into the tournament, no terror incidents have been reported, but the streets of France have turned into a war zone.
Hundreds of hooligans squared of in the city of Marseille when England played Russia Saturday. Several Brits were left in serious condition, with a 51-year-old fan fighting for his life in a coma at the hospital.
The Union of European Football Associations warned both teams they will be disqualified if their respective fans repeat the violence during the tournament.
While the Englishmen condemned the violence, Russian politicians praised his countrymen for their efforts during the beatdown.
Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s sports minister, was spotted making celebratory gestures as the fans went at it inside the stadium.
Mutko initially said the clashes had been exaggerated, but later took back his comments and condemned the violence.
Igor Lebedev, a member of the Russian parliament from the nationalist Liberal Democratic party, tweeted out his support for the Russian hooligans Monday.
“I don’t see anything wrong with fans fighting. On the contrary, well done boys! Keep it up,” Lebedev wrote in the tweet.
Lebedev expanded on why he supports violence in an interview with Russian website Life.ru.
“If there had been no provocations from English fans, our fans would have been unlikely to get into a fight in the stands,” Lebedev said. “[Our] guys defended the honor of the country and did not give the British any occasion to defile our homeland.”
Investigators in Marseille said some of the Russians appeared to be “extremely well-trained” fighters. Marseille’s Chief Prosecutor Brice Robin said about 150 could be on their way to the city of Lille for retaliation against the Brits. Lille has imposed a 24-hour ban on alcohol sales Wednesday when England and Wales play.
The violence continued on a smaller scale when Ukraine and Germany faced each other Sunday night.
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