England fans fear more violence with Russians in Lille

England fans heading to Lens for Thursday’s match against Wales are worried about a new chapter in the violent scenes witnessed in Marseille at Euro 2016.

After running street battles between England and Russia fans around Saturday’s group stage encounter, there are fears of further fighting as both sets of supporters now converge on Lille.

Russia play Slovakia in Lille on Wednesday, while many England fans are staying in the city before the Wales game in nearby Lens.

Both nations have been threatened with expulsion from the tournament, with Russia handed a suspended disqualification and fined £119,000 after a hooligan element were seen rushing the England section at full time in the Stade Velodrome.

FA chairman Greg Dyke has warned of “serious concerns” around security in Lille, and those fears have been echoed by the England supporters we spoke to in Lyon.

“UEFA have got it so wrong, the logistics of everything,” said Danny, from Lancashire, who was among those tear-gassed by police in Marseille.

“We play Wales in Lens (on Thursday) which has got a population of 35,000. It’s just a village with a football ground essentially. We’ve been told to stay out of Lens so everyone’s booked Lille, and on the Wednesday Russia play Slovakia in Lille.

“There’s going to be England, Wales, Russia, Slovakia all in one city. What do you think’s going to happen? Everyone’s expecting it to kick off.”

A number of Russians have been deported in recent days, with 43 reportedly arrested so far, but thousands have travelled to Lille by car and rail for the Slovakia match.

If there is further trouble involving England fans when they arrive, it is thought that Wales supporters will form an alliance against the Russians.

“England and Wales will join together and the Russians will attack every British fan,” said Danny.

“It’s already been discussed,” added Liam, another England supporter from Lancashire. “England and Wales will join together. I don’t think the French police expected the sheer amount of numbers we’ve brought. (In Marseille) we pretty much filled the ground and there were so many without tickets.”

While the England fans we spoke to accepted that a number of fellow supporters must take responsibility for their drunken behaviour, there are real concerns over the preparation for violence by Russian hooligans.

There is a feeling that the thugs instigating attacks in Marseille are not at all interested in the football, with threats of expulsion likely to fall on deaf ears.

“They had gas masks on because they knew they were going to get tear-gassed. They’re organised,” said Danny.

“They’ve literally come over for that. You’re a target anywhere you go in the world as an England fan. I think it’s going to be a bad few days in Lille.”

England fans fear more violence with Russians in Lille
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