France declares war on football thugs

  • 13/06/2016
France declares war on football thugs

The French government is vowing to expel foreign football hooligans, saying their violence during the Euro 2016 is distracting police from the fight against terrorism.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said he instructed local officials to issue expulsion orders for "all foreign supporters whose behaviour disturbs public order."

"Their actions distract the police from their primary mission, which is to protect our country from the terrorist threat," he said.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that 116 people had been arrested since Friday in incidents connected to the tournament, with 63 of them still being held in prison and the rest released.

Three people had been expelled from France and five others barred from entering France, the ministry said.

France is hosting the 24-nation tournament while still in a state of emergency following terror attacks that killed 130 people in Paris in November.

Mr Cazeneuve said he also asked for restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol in Euro 2016 host cities after three days of drunken violence in Marseille, largely involving Russian and English hooligans and fans.

Alcohol restrictions could apply on the eve and the days of matches, in public spaces, bars around stadiums and stores that sell alcohol for consumption off the premises.

Local officials will be allowed to decide which areas would be dry.

Lens, in the north, has already banned sales of bottles of hard liquor in the town centre and restricted other alcohol sales.

In Lille, authorities have asked police to sanction bars that sell alcohol to people who are drunk.

Russian and English hooligans could again cross paths in Lille this week.

Russia next plays Slovakia in Lille on Wednesday afternoon.

The following day, England meets Wales 30 kilometres (20 miles) away in Lens.

Authorities are bracing for trouble.

Two people were injured in Lille on Sunday during violence involving supporters from Germany and Ukraine, authorities said.

An Albanian arrested on Saturday for fighting with a visitor from England was questioned by Lille police and ordered to leave the country.

Another 25 people were turned away at France's northern border with Belgium, including some on police lists of identified hooligans.

In Paris, police also reported 15 arrests on Sunday related to the tournament but refused to give details.

For Wednesday and Thursday, Lille will be reinforced with an extra company of 80 riot police officers, Mr Malizard said.

That will come on top of the 480 police officers and eight companies of riot police already planned for match days in the city, who are hosting six games.