Chaos erupted in Warsaw yesterday when Russian and Polish fans fought running battles in the streets before and after a Euro 2012 soccer match. At least 11 people were injured in the clashes. Eight of those hurt, including a policeman, are Poles, two are Russian, and one is German. The game ended 1-1.
See the violent hooligans after the jump. Warning, footage might be disturbing for some viewers.
A total of 123 people were arrested yesterday during the violence yesterday, Poland’s Interior Ministry.
Police fired warning shots, used water cannon gear, and tear gas as they sought to break up the rivalling parties.
There has been a long history of bad feelings between the two countries, and both have also struggled to deal with hardcore, violent football fans in the past.
The disorder broke out as about 5 000 Russian fans reached Warsaw’s Poniatowski Bridge, on their way to the National Stadium. The Russians had organised a march through Warsaw before the game to mark Russia’s June 12 national day.
“As the crowd entered the Poniatowski Bridge, approximately a hundred pseudo football fans of the two opposing teams have attempted to confront each other,” the Polish ministry stated.
Riot police took “decisive” action to stop it from escalating, with around 6 000 other police on duty in Warsaw during the day.
Russian officials had already called for better behaviour from their fans after trouble during Friday’s opening 4-1 win against the Czech Republic.
The Russian Football Union issued a statement condemning the violence:
We believe that some people who were present at the stadium [behaved] unworthy of the true football fans. Those who choose the sports arena for the declaration of their personal political and other positions have no place in the stands.
The Russian Football Union and the national team of Russia kindly request all the fans of these provocative actions to confront bullies and to cooperate fully with the organizers of the match in matters of security.
We appeal to all fans who are in Poland. Remember that you represent your country. Respect yourself, your home and your team.
The Polish ministry will also be reviewing various surveillance footage feeds in order to identify perpetrators, and make further arrests.
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