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France moves to expel Russian football fans

Darko Janjevic (AFP, Reuters, Interfax)
June 14, 2016

French riot police have blocked a bus full of Russian fans near Cannes and threatened to deport all of them, according to a fan leader at the scene. Several fans were escorted out of Marseille, local authorities say.

Frankreich Polizei stoppt Bus mit russischen Fußballfans
Image: Reuters/E. Gaillard

Russian supporters were refusing to leave the bus after security forces halted them on Tuesday morning, said president of the Russian Supporters' Union Alexander Shprygin.

A consul was heading to the scene in Cannes, he added. Previously, French police allegedly threatened to storm the bus and deport all of the passengers, prompting an hours-long standoff.

"They want to deport almost 50 people including women who did not take part in anything," Shprygin told Reuters via telephone. "We are not going anywhere for the time being."

The fans' representative posted a picture of a 66-year-old bus passenger, saying he fell ill while waiting in the heat, prompting them to call an ambulance.

"They won't give us water, they won't let us turn on the air conditioning, very hot, two people are sick. Won't let us go to the toilet," he said in a separate tweet.

Hooligans 'cannot stay'

The standoff follows a massive clash between English and Russian hooligans on the streets of Marseille that injured 35 people on Saturday. Riot police struggled to contain the brawl, with hooligans using chairs and beer bottles as weapons.

French Sports Minister Patrick Kanner spoke about "50 to 200 Russian hooligans that need to be taken out of the equation."

"The Russian authorities should never have let these people leave the country and they must react," he told the AFP news agency.

On Tuesday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that a number of fans "will be deported because some people cannot stay on national territory."

The police in Marseille were checking the identities of dozens of Russian fans, trying to determine if they were one of the troublemakers, according to the officials. Several supporters were already transported to a holding center at the border.

On Tuesday, UEFA announced it would fine Russia 150,000 euro ($168,300) over fan violence. Russia was also facing disqualification if its fans caused one more stadium incident during the month-long tournament.

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