Lille (France) (AFP) – Russia striker Artem Dzyuba on Tuesday hit out at English fans following trouble in Marseille, saying that they were being depicted as “angels” and that there were political motivations for blaming Russian supporters.
The Zenit St Petersburg forward spoke after UEFA warned Russia they would be kicked out of Euro 2016 if their fans caused one more incident of stadium trouble during the tournament.
Fighting marred Saturday’s 1-1 draw between Russia and England at Marseille’s Stade Velodrome, which followed confrontations on the streets of the southern French city.
“I dont really understand this kind of reaction of the British media. We have this impression that English supporters are like angels coming to this country and behaving themselves,” Dzyuba said, angrily refuting claims from England that Russian hooligans were to blame.
Russian fans crossed security barriers inside the Stade Velodrome and attacked England fans. Dozens of English supporters, including women and children, had to flee across security barriers to escape.
But Dzyuba indicated that England fans were equally to blame for the violence and that there was a campaign to take the 2018 World Cup away from the country.
“I cannot affirm it, but it is possible, it is probable. We see the things that the British media are talking about, about the 2018 World Cup and that it should be taken away from Russia, so these are thoughts I have sometimes.
“It is 50-50 and in every conflict there are two parts. I am not saying only Russians are at fault,” added Dzyuba, who spoke in Lille, where Russia face Slovakia in their second Group B game on Wednesday.
Local authorities are fearful of more trouble in the northern city, especially as England fans are set to gather there ahead of their match with Wales on Thursday in the much smaller town of Lens, just down the road.
“Please can we talk about the game,” he appealed. “This is not a street-fighting championship, this is football.
“We have already said several times that we hope the fans will behave properly.
“Our supporters have to focus on just supporting us and we will try to show our best qualities. We want to play this competition.
“We are happy to be here and it will be a big disappointment if we go out.”
– English fans ‘unethical’ –
Russia coach Leonid Slutsky appeared unwilling to overtly condemn any involvement of Russian fans in last weekend’s violence. He was also confident that UEFA would not follow through on any threat to kick them out of the tournament.
“We are sure that we are not going to be kicked out. There is not going to be any injustice,” said Slutsky.
“We would like to repeat we are sure that our supporters will not do the same and will not give any reasons to disqualify our team.
“We do not know what happened on the streets of course, but when the Russian national anthem was played there were England supporters shouting.
“This was unethical as were all the gestures we received from England fans on the way to the stadium.
“There are some people who come to the game to watch and others who come to behave as badly as possible.”