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Euro 2016: England fan arrested after Marseille clash

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Media captionFrench police used tear gas to bring the trouble under control in Marseille on Friday morning

One England football fan and one local man have been arrested after police used tear gas to break up trouble in Marseille ahead of Euro 2016.

Earlier reports had said two England fans were arrested, but this was later clarified by French police.

Ch Supt Steve Neill, a British policeman in Marseille, said the "confrontation" had been between local youths and some England fans.

Police said Thursday night's incident had been dealt with quickly.

The clash with locals took place outside a pub in the Old Port district at about midnight.

Four French policemen had been lightly injured as they moved in on England fans, the news website France Bleu reported. Many of the fans had been drunk, it said.

After the tear gas was released, the police restored calm to the area at about 02:30 local time.

There had been no damage to local property, they said.

'Small minority'

Mr Neill, who is in charge of England fan security, told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Local police moved in very quickly and utilised some tear gas to disperse the local youths and close the pub.

"The use of tear gas seems quite dramatic to us from England and the United Kingdom because we are not used to seeing it - but in mainland Europe it is a regular tactic and they restored order fairly quickly."

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for football policing, said England supporters had been in Marseille on Thursday "without issue" before a group of approximately 70 local youths had approached the pub where they had congregated.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Police carrying riot shields moved in to separate clashing groups

Footage of the incident showed men hurling chairs, a fist fight outside a fast-food restaurant and chanting England fans surrounded by police officers with dogs.

"We need to keep it in context - there are thousands of England supporters who will come here and have a fantastic time," Mr Neill said.

"There is a small minority who drink too much and get involved in some anti-social behaviour."

Supporters have travelled to Marseille ahead of England's opening Euro 2016 game with Russia on Saturday.

Geoff Pearson, a senior lecturer in criminal law at Manchester University, said he had been outside O'Malley's Irish pub when the clash happened.

He said only a "handful" of England fans had been involved.

"The police response was disproportionate," said Dr Pearson, who has studied the policing of football crowds. "The England fans had done nothing wrong."

'Indiscriminate'

Kevin Miles, chief executive of the Football Supporters' Federation, which runs the fans embassy in Marseille, said: "It's the police's job to prevent a confrontation and they used French methods to do so, which we're not particularly used to.

"They used tear gas, which is a little bit indiscriminate for my liking, but it did the job and the problems were over."

Both tournament organisers Uefa and English football's governing body, the FA, urged fans to behave respectfully.

The FA said it was "really disappointed by the scenes of disorder in Marseille" and that it condemned such behaviour.

"It is in the hands of the authorities to identify those involved and deal with them appropriately," it said.


Are you a fan in France for Euro 2016? What is your view of the brawl? And what do you make of policing arrangements?

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