MUNICH/BILBAO: Fears over the possibility of hooligan trouble at the World Cup in Russia in June and July have been revived after two separate incidents across Europe writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
A Russian fan accused of violence at the 2016 European Championship finals in France has been detained in Germany while a policeman died during clashes between supporters of Athletic Bilbao and Moscow Spartak in northern Spain.
In Munich German police said they had apprehended the 31-year-old suspect upon his arrival from Moscow an international arrest warrant issued in France.
He faces up to 15 years in jail in France for attempted homicide and grievous bodily harm. The victim is believed to have been Andrew Bache, from Portsmouth, who was 51 when he was attacked during the tournament two years ago.
He suffered severe brain injuries and had to be placed in an induced coma, from which he has since emerged.
German federal police said the Russian suspect was identified following a joint investigation with British police over the course of almost a year and a half.
The police statement said: “It seems he didn’t count on the good co-operation of European law enforcement agencies. Now he’s sitting in jail in Munich.”
France jailed both Russia and England fans in the immediate aftermath of the Euro 2016 violence, and deported more than 20 others.
In Spain police in riot gear faced off against hundreds of fans outside the San Mames Stadium in Bilbao before a Europa League tie. During the confrontation a police officer suffered a cardiac arrest and subsequently died in hospital.
Police had been escorting some Spartak fans into the stadium but a stray group allegedly started lighting fireworks and throwing flares and objects toward Athletic supporters and officers. The fighting spread on to the streets near the stadium. Stones were thrown at police, who set off flares to push back crowds.
In a statement, UEFA said it “strongly condemns the violent clashes which occurred in Bilbao. We are in contact with local authorities to obtain further information on these incidents”.
A police statement said: “Five people have been arrested. We do not know if they are all supporters of Spartak, but many of them are Russians.”
World Cup organisers in Russia have always insisted that the finals will be trouble-free, in part because of the deployment of a security-led ‘Fan Passport’ identifcation system.
** Michy Batshuayi, the Borussia Dortmund striker on loan from Chelsea, has complained he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy. He tweeted: “2018 and still racists monkey noises in the stands … really ?!”
Dortmund reached the third round by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate.