After world football was appalled by the marring scenes of violence that followed the Euro 2016 tie between England and Russia, a senior Russian official has reacted angrily to the criticism aimed at his nation – instead choosing to applaud the ugly scenes seen at the tournament, caused by over 150 “well trained” hooligans from Russia.
After the mayhem and confusion of Saturday evening, Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin sought to clarify who he felt was responsible for the violence, placing the majority of the blame for the fighting at the hands of “well trained” Russian fans.
“These people were well prepared for ultra-rapid, ultra-violent action. These are extremely well trained people.”
Brice Robin, French Prosecution
Senior Russian football official, Igor Lebedev took to Twitter to defend the hooligans and insisted they had defended their country’s honour.
Не вижу ничего страшного в драке фанатов. Наоборот, молодцы наши ребята. Так держать!https://t.co/g4ZKsFPDTt
— Игорь Лебедев (@Russian1972) June 13, 2016
“I don’t see anything wrong with the fans fighting. Quite the opposite, well done lads, keep it up!”
Lebedev is a member of the executive committee of the Russian Football Union but also holds a post as the deputy chairman of the Russian parliament as a member of the nationalist Liberal Democratic party.
“I don’t understand those politicians and officials who are criticising our fans. We should defend them, and then we can sort it out when they come home,
“What happened in Marseille and in other French towns is not the fault of fans, but about the inability of police to organise this kind of event properly.”
Speaking later to Russian website life.ru, Lebedev continued:
“In nine out of 10 cases, football fans go to games to fight, and that’s normal. The lads defended the honour of their country and did not let English fans desecrate our motherland.”
In spite of the Russian’s rash comments, UEFA has already opened proceedings against the Russian Football Union after Russian fans threw flares and fireworks into sections containing England fans. UEFA has warned both Russia and England that any further fan trouble will put the two nations in the firing line for disqualification.
The response from the two sides couldn’t be further polarised, with Roy Hodgson and captain Wayne Rooney realising a statement pleading for calm form English supporters:
— England (@England) June 13, 2016