The French police announced the deportation of all 50 Russian fans on the bus of the All-Russian Association of Supporters (VOB) on the way to Lille for the European Championship match between the national teams of Russia and Slovakia, VOB head Alexander Shprygin told R-sport.
“Now the police are pulling all of us out of the bus, they announced deportation. The reasons are not explained. There are 50 people on the bus. Some kind of window dressing! None of us was detained during the riots in Marseille, and as a result, for some reason, we stuck to the VOB official delegation “, – said Shprygin by phone to R-sport.
Earlier, VOB President Shprygin said that French special forces were blocking and inspecting organized groups of Russian fans at the entrance to Lille, where the Euro 2016 Russia-Slovakia match will take place on June 15. According to him, only three of the fans were detained for deportation.
According to the head of the VOBa, the Russian consulate in Marseilles, the Russian Football Union, as well as representatives of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs at the tournament were notified of the situation.
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS that he was in touch with the head of the VOBA. “I think everything will be fine. I am in touch with the head of the VOBa, if necessary, our representative will drive up there and figure out the situation, ”Mutko said. “This is a different country, different rules, different orders,” the minister emphasized.
In turn, the French authorities have so far given restrained comments about what is happening and only talk about 29 detained Russian fans. A spokesman for the prefecture of the Alpes-Maritimes told TASS that French police detained a group of 29 Russian fans near Cannes on Tuesday to check their documents. “If it is found that there are persons involved in the riots among the fans, they will be handed over to law enforcement agencies for further investigation,” the agency’s interlocutor said. So far, the prefecture has not reported whether the Russians involved in the riots have already been identified.
The Russian Embassy in France states that they are aware of the situation and are ready to provide all the necessary assistance to the detainees. “The Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Marseille is aware of the situation. A man was sent to the place. If necessary, the fans will be provided with all kinds of assistance, ”said the press attaché of the TASS embassy. The Russian diplomat stressed that “despite the information that appeared in the media, the fans detained to check their documents did not officially turn to the Russian Consulate General for help.” “The information was received from the French side,” the embassy explained.
Meanwhile, The Guardian calls Shprygin an ultra-right nationalist activist. The publication notes that he is part of the official delegation of Russia and that over the weekend he was in Marseille, where fans fought. Human rights groups fighting racism have expressed concern about his official accreditation with the Russian national team, the newspaper writes. The Fare Network, an organization officially hired by UEFA to monitor championship matches, believes Shprygin is one of the leaders among Russian far-right fan groups. Fare Network CEO Piara Povar told the publication that Shprygin’s presence in the official delegation heightens concerns “about the apparent closeness of high-ranking politicians with the leaders of ultra-right and extreme nationalist groups” in Russian football ahead of the 2018 World Cup.
On June 13, the French police searched the hotel rooms where VOB representatives live, who had come to support the Russian national team at the European Football Championship. As Shprygin suggested, the checks were arranged in connection with the riots in Marseille.
The European Football Championship, which kicked off in France on June 10, saw a series of clashes involving visiting fans and local residents. In particular, the situation around the Russia-England game was tense in connection with the fan clashes that began in Marseille on Thursday and culminated on Saturday. The police were forced to use smoke bombs, tear gas and a water cannon, but they could not detain any of the participants in the fight from the Russian side, Kommersant notes. The prosecutor of Marseille Brice Robin said that it was established that the instigators of the fight were “professional hooligans”, “excellently prepared” both for the effective conduct of the battle and for evading the police. Those who beat the British on the streets of Marseille were sober, did not wear any symbols and instantly mingled with the crowd, the newspaper writes. Those who fought in the stadium were also not detained.
On June 12, UEFA opened a disciplinary case against the RFU and threatened the Russian and English teams with exclusion from the number of Euro 2016 participants due to riots organized by fans at the stadium in Marseille, where the match between the teams of the two countries took place on June 11.