Poland and Russia fans arrested in scuffles in Warsaw

 

By Alex Byrom
Referees Editor from Warsaw

 

There have been clashes between rivals Poland and Russia today as both sides drew in their Euro 2012 Group A match in the Polish capital Warsaw.

A march ahead of the match by thousands of Russian fans to mark their national day had to be halted and some missiles were thrown, Police said.

Police say they arrested at least 120 people – mostly Russian – and that 10 people were injured, though none seriously.

A heavy police presence was in evidence around the stadium after the match as further clashes broke out.

About 6,000 police were on duty to keep the rival fans apart.

The match ended shortly after 22:30 local time (20:30 GMT) in a 1-1 draw.

Beforehand, some Polish fans on a bridge on the march route had tried to attack the Russian fans and had been involved in scuffles, according to the BBC’s Alex Capstick in Warsaw.

Tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons were used to disperse fans at the end of the march, according to Poland's state news agency.

In a separate incident, 50 Polish fans in masks attacked Russian fans in a Warsaw cafe, the Russian news agency Interfax reported.

During the match, trouble broke out in an area of the city centre where the match was being displayed on big screens, the Associated Press reports.

Polish police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at a group of young fans who attacked them with glass bottles, according to the AP.

There has been renewed rivalry for decades following what happened during the Second World War and the subsequent Cold War: Russia annexed most of Poland in the 19th Century and ruled it for more than 100 years. The Soviet Union dominated it during the Cold War, after World War II.

The Conservative Polish opposition condemned the march as a provocation, but it was approved by the authorities. 

The Russian National Holiday marks Russia's declaration of Sovereignty in 1990 - a key episode in the demise of the Soviet Union.

Polish media highlighted fears that some Russian fans may sport Soviet flags and symbols - a highly sensitive issue for many Poles who deplored Communist rule. 

"March or street war?" said a headline in the Conservative daily Rzeczpospolita. It quoted Wojciech Wisniewski, a member of the Polish Union of Football Fans, as saying.

"Somebody really wants to make Polish [football] fans attack the Russians."

European football's governing body UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Russia after a series of incidents involving the country's fans at Euro 2012 - thus far.

Russian fans were caught on camera kicking and punching stewards inside the Wroclaw Stadium, in Western Poland, after their team had thrashed the Czech Republic 4-1 on Friday. The stewards required hospital treatment. 

Anti-racist monitors at the match said a section of the crowd were also abusing Czech Republic's only black player: right back Theodor Gebre Salassie.

In a statement on Monday, Russian football association said: "We urge all football fans now in Poland to remember that they represent Russia. Please respect yourselves, your country and your team."

 

 

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