England fans attacked in stadium amid 'terrible' Marseille Euro 2016 violence


Chaos surrounded England's first Euro 2016 finals match with fans attacked by Russian thugs inside the stadium after a third day of violence in Marseille left several British supporters in hospital.

England fans were seen fleeing from the Stade Velodrome shortly after the final whistle was blown on the 1-1 draw as Balaclava-clad thugs punched through a line of stewards before attacking bystanders.

Violence mars England-Russia Euro 2016 opener
Violence mars England-Russia Euro 2016 opener

At least one Briton is understood to have been left seriously ill after a day of disorder in the Mediterranean port city left as many as 20 England fans injured.

The scenes from Marseille were described by the FA as "terrible" as it called on the local authorities to deal with the perpetrators swiftly.

There were also reports of attacks on Northern Ireland football fans by local "ultras" in Nice, where the side will play Poland later.

It is understood that Uefa will open disciplinary proceedings over the stadium violence, with Russia potentially facing strong sanctions.

The incident will raise serious questions about French security at a time when the country is on high alert after November's terrorist attacks on Paris.

Spectators reported seeing stewards in the ground at the end of the game, but no police officers.

Just before the end of the game white flares were lit in the Russian end, followed by a green rocket which went over England goalkeeper Joe Hart's goal. This was followed by a bang and then a red firework.

England had earlier seen Eric Dier's sublime free-kick cancelled out by Vasili Berezutsky as Russia ended the game with a lucky point.

In south-west France earlier on Saturday there were peaceful and joyous scenes as Wales marked their first European Championship appearance with a 2-1 win over Slovakia in Bordeaux.

But 315 miles to the south-east, it was a different story.

French police had used water cannon and tear gas on rioters hours before the game started.

Fist fights and bottle throwing broke out between the England supporters and their Russian and French counterparts in Marseille's Old Port on Saturday afternoon.

Rebekah Vardy, the new wife of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, tweeted that she was caught up in the "horrific" violence before kick-off.

She wrote: "That has to be up there with the worst experience EVER at an away game! Teargassed for no reason, caged and treated like animals! Shocking!"

According to France's BFM TV, 31 people were injured, four seriously, with one fighting for his life. Three police officers were also hurt, and six people were arrested the channel said.

Julian King, British ambassador to France, tweeted: "Number of Brits in hospital overnight. Consular following closely with French authorities."

England coach Roy Hodgson refused to comment in detail on the incidents, but said the players "weren't particularly aware (of what happened) and it certainly had no effect on our preparation for the game and our performance in the game."

Speaking at a post-match conference, FA spokesman Mark Whittle said the day's events were regrettable.

"The FA is very disappointed about the terrible scenes of disorder and of course condemns such behaviour.

"It is now in the hands of the relevant authorities to identify those involved in trouble and deal with them appropriately and quickly.

"At this time the FA urges England supporters to act in a respectful manner and support England in the right way."

Despite the chaotic post-match scenes inside England and Russian fans were later seen drifting away from the stadium peacefully from the area.

However dozens of riot police were reportedly seen in the port where the waterfront bars had closed.

And there was additional concern late on Saturday after an incident on the city's metro left a French woman needing hospital treatment.

Meanwhile in Nice French riot police were called in to disperse local "ultras" who attacked Northern Ireland football fans, a senior supporters' representative said.

Gary McAllister, chairman of the Northern Ireland supporters' clubs, tweeted: "Local ultras attacked Polish and NI fans who were mixing well.

"French riot police dispersed locals."

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We are in contact with French authorities about a British national injured in Marseille and stand ready to provide further support."

Britons in France who need consular support can contact the embassy 24 hours a day on +33 1 4451 3100.