British MPs discuss England and Russia fans

English fans in Marseille. Credits: Twitter

English fans in Marseille. Credits: Twitter

14 Jun. — British MPs urgently discussed a wave of football violence at the Euro Football Championship in France. England fans involved in the clashes await courts and bans on overseas travel.

The riots, which eclipsed the hosting of the Euro 2016, took place on 11 June. Initially, many clashes between Russian and English fans were observed in the city where the game between the teams was to be held. It was already after the match that riots erupted in the stadium stands.

It was these riots, namely, that became the basis for tough sanctions on the Russian team. On 14 June, UEFA imposed a €150,000 fine and a suspended disqualification that becomes effective if there are any further incidents in the stadium.

The happenings – especially the conduct of the English supporters – did not escape the notice of British politicians either. During a parliamentary session, Home Secretary Theresa May had to answer deputies’ questions.

She started with repeating her words on the Russian fans’ responsibility for “instigating a good deal of the worst violence.” Nevertheless, according to the Home Secretary, this does not remove any responsibility from the English fans.

She stated that Great Britain will send police units to assist their French colleagues before the next games of the Russian and English teams.

Theresa May reminded everyone that the country had also carried out preventive work before the start of the tournament, the result of which being that about 1,400 of the most aggressive fans were unable to go to France. At the same time, she said that those who were and will be arrested in riots during the days of the championship can expect punishment not only in the French justice system but also later in the English one. Finally, she pointed out that the conditions of disqualification for Russia must serve as a warning to other teams.

The MPs twice raised the question about the World Championship to be held in Russia in 2018 and the danger to fans from various countries. The Home Secretary refrained from giving any evaluation, citing the need to deal with the present problems related to the ongoing tournament.

It is in this context that the politicians mulled over the words of Russian MP Igor Lebedev, who praised the fans after the riots. Labour MP Mark Gapes called Lebedev’s party (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) “fascist”.  Speaker John Bercow could not hold back either, calling the Russian parliamentarian “very bigoted”. The Home Secretary described Lebedev’s words as “utterly appalling”.

Even the Russian media made it into the discussion in the end. Labour MP Andrew Gwynne asked the Home Secretary her opinion on the Russian press, particularly the Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, supporting the hooligans. “I made it a rule fairly early on in my life never to read Pravda,” answered Theresa May.

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