Russia will be disqualified from Euro 2016 if there is a repeat of the crowd trouble seen at the Stade Vélodrome that marred their opening match with England in Marseille, Uefa has ruled. However, the Russian striker Artem Dzyuba immediately responded that the English fans were no angels and equally to blame.
Dzyuba also criticised the British media for its coverage of the incidents in Marseille, claiming it was politically motivated and aimed at stripping Russia of its hosting rights for the 2018 World Cup.
Russia's coach, Leonid Slutsky, also criticised the "unethical" behaviour of England fans and said it was unfair to only blame the Russians. He said: "We do not know what happened on the streets, of course, 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."
Uefa’s disciplinary committee, which rules on incidents inside the stadium, handed Russia a €150,000 fine and a suspended disqualification. It said any further incidents of violence inside a stadium would lead to the suspension being lifted and instant disqualification.
Slutsky said he was sure that Russia’s supporters, who charged towards their English counterparts at the end of the match on Saturday, would behave for the remainder of the tournament.
He said: “They were supporting us very well during the England game and I hope they will continue to do so during the group phase and other games. We do need your support, but we would like to insist on the fact that we have to focus on the support of our team and to do it in a legal framework.”
The English FA was not charged for events inside the stadium but Uefa registered its “disgust” with the scenes in the days running up to the match, when England fans were involved in incidents with locals and police in the old port area, saying it could also impose sanctions if there is a repeat.
Before the match, around 150 heavily organised Russian ultras charged at England fans, leaving several seriously injured and one in a critical condition. It was revealed on Monday that Alexander Shprygin, a notorious far-right head of the Russian supporter's group, was travelling with the official delegation.
Dzyuba, a Zenit St Petersburg striker, said: “The British media have this impression that English supporters are like angels who came to this country and they’re just behaving themselves. 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.”
The forward also claimed the British media agenda was aimed at stripping Russia of the 2018 World Cup, a line of argument that has previously been pursued by sports minister Vitaly Mutko.
“I cannot affirm it but it is possible, it’s probable,” said Dzyuba when asked to clarify his claim that the coverage had a political agenda. “We can see the things the British media are talking about, talking about the World Cup 2018 and they’re saying that they have to take it away from Russia”
Portrayal of events
The FA chairman, Greg Dyke, has written to Uefa asking for the safety of England fans to be guaranteed and complaining at its portrayal of events inside the stadium in a letter sent this week.
The Uefa charges against the Russian Football Union related to "crowd disturbances, use of fireworks and racist behaviour" around the 1-1 draw.
Mutko said he thought the punishment was unfair, but that the country would not appeal. He said: “The fine is enormous as the Russian Football Union is a non-commercial organisation. What does this have to do with the team? It is not guilty of anything.”
Prior to Uefa's announcement, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said: "Violations of the law have been committed by fans from various nations who have gone on rampages. It's absolutely unacceptable, and we certainly expect our citizens to respect the country's laws. Regrettably, fans from various nations have taken part in those rampages, regrettably including Russia."
England were also warned by Uefa that they could be thrown out of the tournament, and the midfielder Adam Lallana said such an exit would be "devastating".
“Our message is for everyone to be safe and sensible. By all means enjoy the match, but be respectful that we are out there. I’ve got friends and family coming to the game – it’s a big game and I’ve got to focus on my job and hopefully everyone can do their job off the field.” Guardian Service