MOSCOW/PARIS: The storm over Russian hooligans in France turned into a diplomatic incident as the Russia’s Foreign Ministry summoned the French ambassador in Moscow over the detention of its fans at Euro 2016 writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Within hours, French riot police were firing tear gas to try to stem trouble in Lille in northern France where the Russian national team had just been defeated 2-1 by Slovakia.
A Ministry statement said a complain had been lodged with the French ambassador about “discrimination” towards Russian citizens, adding that “further fanning of anti-Russian sentiments” could damage relations between the countries.
French authorities reported on Tuesday that groups of Russian football follers were being deported after having been detained in Lille ahead of the Slovakia game and after fears about a new confrontation with fans of England who play in nearby Lens tomorrow.
A Lille police spokesman said: “Two Russians were arrested yesterday evening during a fight in Lille and two after being found drunk in a car with weapons.” The weapons were described as wooden sticks. Three more fans were then arrested in the morning and being held for questioning.
The issue of Russian fans’ behaviour and the damage to Russia’s international reputation has reportedly been the subject of a top-level Kremlin meeting between President Vladimir Putin and senior advisers.
This is already a difficult week for Russia whose athletes may be barred from the Olympic Games because of the endemic doping scandal.