After Violence, Security Upped At European Soccer Championship Matches

Jun 15, 2016
Originally published on June 15, 2016 6:52 am
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And thousands of extra police are on hand in two French cities this week ahead of games in the European soccer championship. Eleanor Beardsley reports it's all about the violent fans from England and especially Russia.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: The TV footage of English and Russian soccer hooligans throwing chairs and bottles and raging through the Old Port district of Marseille last weekend revolted many. Thirty-five people were injured in the violence, one critically. In Paris, England fans David Pipe and Gary Mills said they thought English soccer had solved its hooligan problem.

DAVID PIPE: It's sad. It's sad to see it come back again because I kind of though it was behind us, to be honest.

GARY MILLS: There's no place for it anymore.

BEARDSLEY: In Marseille, several English hooligans were arrested and two were even given jail time. But the Russian troublemakers, said to be the worst, evaded police. On Tuesday, the European soccer federation's disciplinary board told Russia it would be thrown out of the tournament if its fans caused further mayhem.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BERNARD CAZENEUVE: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced new restrictions on alcohol. Supermarkets in Lille have been prohibited from selling it for 60 hours. And bars in the neighboring town of Lens can only sell low-alcohol beer in cups. The two towns, only 25 miles apart, will host the Russia-Slovakia match today and England-Wales tomorrow. French, British and Russian authorities are now said to be working together so that the team's fans don't cross paths. French police, who had been worried about terrorism, now find their biggest headache is drunken thugs. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.