Who are Uefa going to discipline and who will discipline Uefa?

Marseille prosecutor: 150 specially trained Russian hooligans involved in violence

Uefa has opened disciplinary proceedings against Russia over the disturbing scenes inside the Stade Velodrome on Saturday night, while also warning England that they could be thrown out of the tournament if there is any repeat of the violent, chaotic scenes in Marseille's old port.

But who will discipline Uefa? It is not a case of being wise after the event to point out that England facing Russia in Marseille late on a Saturday night in their first match of the tournament was, at the very least, a completely needless hostage to fortune at a time when the whole of France remains desperately on edge.

As soon as the draw was made in December, just a month after the terror attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, British and French authorities realised that a return to the scene of clashes between England supporters and locals during the 1998 World Cup was a huge headache.

Everyone knew it and yet nothing was done about it. As has become the way of modern tournaments, as they have become ever more complex and gargantuan, organisers held fast to their policy of scheduling matches into pre-selected slots.


That not only left England facing Russia in Marseille but both sets of fans then decamping to head north at the same time. So Russia will play Slovakia in Lille on Wednesday, before England and Wales clash in the industrial town of Lens - just 25 miles away - a day later.

Not only that, England are facing Wales - with the numbers expected to exceed those who made it to Marseille, given the proximity to Calais - in the smallest city in the tournament.

As such French authorities are planning to virtually shut the city down and restrict entry to ticket holders. Instead, England fans were officially advised to head for Lille instead - where they will immediately run into the Russians again.

"If you've not got a ticket, don't go to Lens. Go to Lille instead, where there's a bigger fanzone. We know Brits will get where water can't in terms of sporting events but people will not get in stadiums without a ticket. If you've not got a ticket, don't travel," was the advice from assistant chief constable Mark Roberts, the lead for football policing in the UK, before the tournament after a meeting with local organisers.

Meanwhile Lyon - a much bigger city with a new stadium that caters for more than 59,000 - will host a match between Albania and Romania. The complex, toxic brew that led to the distressing scenes in Marseille is not easily unpicked when it comes to apportioning blame.

The English moronic minority who goaded and taunted police and locals? Yes. The terrifyingly tooled up Russian minority who caused serious injury and mayhem in the old port and at the stadium? Definitely. The locals who saw an opportunity for a replay of 1998? Them too.

The grim irony, of course, is that the so-called ultras from Russia and France who see the English as targets partly do so because of their history - the same history mythologised by the minority who cling to it. The Russian’s calling cards, the message board rhetoric, has been imported wholesale from their image of what we were once like.

But serious questions should also be asked of French police who seemed intent on indiscriminate dispersal through teargas rather than controlling the situation by the tactic of picking off particular troublemakers that has worked at recent tournaments.

Kevin Miles, the Football Supporters' Federation chief executive, said he watched as police allowed a mob of Russian ultras to prepare themselves to charge, only going in once they had attacked to clear the entire area with teargas.

Given the extent to which the build-up to this tournament has been dominated by security concerns, and we have been repeatedly told that 90,000 personnel are on duty throughout France, where were they in the Stade Velodrome?

The sight of England fans with their backs turned and their hands up scrambling over seats to escape the advancing Russians was a damning indictment on the entire operation. Uefa minimising the number of tickets made available to FAs and maximising the number for neutrals and sponsors is one issue. Rank bad planning is another.

Uefa in its statement briefly dealt with the “segregation issues” and reaffirmed their support for the way in which French police dealt with the problems. There was no mention of the transport problems that left terrified fans stranded at the stadium.

It is also worth considering just how determined the Russians are to stamp out the hooliganism that blights their game at home and abroad, two years before they host the 2018 World Cup.

Vitaly Mutko - extremely close to Vladimir Putin, a member of the new Fifa Council that replaced its discredited executive committee - was even filmed applauding the Russian fans moments after they had cleared the English section.

The man who famously claimed expenses for 57 breakfasts in 20 days at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, who led Russia’s World Cup bid and then declared all its computers had been destroyed when it came to investigating how they did it, who has claimed damning evidence of state-sponsored doping is motivated by jealousy, did not appear to be unduly concerned by what he had seen.

Most England fans have reacted with a mixture of embarrassment and anger to the images beamed around the world from the old port. It would maybe help if Mutko did the same.

Trained hooligans

Meanwhile it’s being reported that Marseille prosecutor, Brice Robin, says 150 specially trained Russian hooligans were behind much of the violence that broke out in they city before the England and Russia game on Saturday.

About 35 people have been injured, including four people whose conditions were described as serious. Robin told reporters Monday that while “almost of those who were wounded were British,” England supporters were also responsible for some of the violence. He said 20 people have been arrested. Ten of them – six Brits, an Austrian and three French – will face immediate trial.

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