PARIS: Euro 2016 directors did consider switching England’s group clash with Russia away from Marseille after the draw was made last December writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
However Martin Kallen, chief exective of European federation UEFA’s tournament organisation, has said that the possibility was turned down despite concerns which were immediately flagged up in the media not only because of the reputation of the two sets fans but the prospect of local troublemakers becoming involved – as at the 1998 World Cup.
On that occasion England hooligans battled with Marseille youths in the Vieux Port before, during and after a World Cup group tie against Tunisia.
UEFA could not say it was not warned. However Kallen told the French media that UEFA did not think there was a strong enough reason to switch match venues around.
Kallen said that discussions had been held but “we took the decision not to change the match schedule because we did not see sufficent reason.”
UEFA had been surprised by what occurred in both streets and stadium. Kallen said: “We did not anticipate the excesses which occurred in Marseille although they were not as significant as some of the reports.”
Kallen added: “We have now increased the level of security by using more stewards in stadiums though this is not so easy because the private security market is now at its limits now in in France. There are no more staff available though, of course, we could reassign people from other venues.”
He said that UEFA would take more consideration of such issues ahead of the pan-European finals competition in 2020.