German television chiefs have complained to UEFA over picture coverage during Russia and England's Euro 2016 match. They claimed the violence, as Russia fans stormed a section of England fans, was airbrushed from view.
The German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF on Monday complained that the official UEFA broadcast of the England-Russia game had effectively whitewashed out all scenes of violence.
At the end of the 1-1 draw, which saw Russia score a dramatic injury time equalizer, Russian fans stormed a section of England fans, with dozens of people injured.
UEFA, which sells footage to national broadcasters, omitted the scenes from its coverage, claiming that did not want to show the scenes for fear of inspiring copycat violence at other matches.
"Of course we have the expectation that, in view of the highly explosive sociopolitical situation, all relevant scenes are included in UEFA's international footage," sad ZDF's head of sport, Dieter Gruschwitz. "That doesn't only include images from the game but everything that happens off on the sidelines. We have made our expectations clear."
Call for a rethink
A camera team from ARD was able to capture footage of the fans' misbehavior, but the broadcaster said UEFA should have provided the material in its direct feed. While broadcasters are allowed as many as 10 of their own cameras in a stadium for each game, they sometimes decline to take their full complement. Between them, ARD and ZDF have the rights to almost all Euro 2016 matches in Germany.
The two broadcasters have made a formal request "that all relevant and public interest situations are made available visually, either as live pictures or recordings." The request stipulated that this should not only include the events on the pitch, but also those away those taking place in the stands.
Meanwhile, a senior official from the Russian Football Union praised the behavior of Russia's fans, urging them to "keep it up."
Igor Lebedev, the son of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, said the Russian fans had been right to fight with the English, who he claimed had started the trouble.
"I don't see anything wrong with fans fighting," Lebedev tweeted, "Quite the opposite, the guys did well. Keep it up."
'Minister would fight England fans'
In a separate interview, he criticized Russian Sports Minister Viatly Mutko, who said the fans had disgraced Russia. In addition to the scenes at the stadium, Russian fans clashed with England supporters and local French fans in the streets of Marseille more than once in the run up to the game.
"I personally think that if Mutko was with the fans in the stands and not an official, he would also go and fight the English fans since they were the ones who started it," Lebedev said.
Meanwhile, former heavyweight boxing champion and Kyiv Mayor Wladimir Klitschko said that the trouble had been the fault of the Russian fans, and that the perpetrators should face severe consequences. Many of the Russian fans involved in the fighting were said to be highly organized.
"One fan is still in a life-threatening condition and that is terrible," Klitschko told the German weekly sports magazine Sport Bild . "The Russian fans were very aggressive and they started the conflict. It must be taken seriously. The people need to be punished severely and there need to be tough rulings."
Russia and England have both been warned that they could be disqualified from the tournament if there is any repeat of the violence. Russia is expected to be fined by UEFA over violence in and outside the stadium.
rc/msh (SID, dpa, epd, AFP)