Russia have been threatened with expulsion from Euro 2016 if there is any repeat of the awful scenes of hooligan violence witnessed in Marseille on Saturday.
Two days of trouble on the streets of the French city boiled over into the Stade Velodrome immediately after Russia’s 1-1 draw with England. The referee’s final whistle appeared to act as a signal for Russian ultras to launch a violent charge against England fans – men, women and children – in the same end of the ground.
Russian official reaction, from Sports Minister and federation president Vitaly Mutko down, was to laugh off the incidents and revel in the notoriety. UEFA – which has questions of its own to answer over a host of organisational blunders – did not see the funny side.
The disciplinary committee has fined the Russian Football Union €150,000 and warned that the team will be kicked out of the competition if there is a repeat of the stadium trouble at their remaining scheduled Group B games against Slovakia in Lille tomorrow and Wales in Toulouse next Monday.
The European federation will be hoping devoutly that, at a time when it is without both a president and a general secretary, the threat will be sufficient.
The political, legal and financial ramifications of having to follow through with the expulsion threat in case of further trouble would be almost unthinkable.
England’s Football Association was not under disciplinary review over the end-of-match incidents in Marseille which were clearly a matter of Russian ultras’ action only. The threat does not apply if there is more trouble outside the match stadia.
However FA chairman Greg Dyke sent a strongy worded letter to UEFA last night demanding that security and segregation arrangements be stepped up to avoid any repeat.
FA officials and England fans are extremely concerned that both sets of supporters will be crammed into Lille tomorrow ahead of both the Russia v Slovakia game and England’s match against Wales in small, neighbouring Lens on Thursday.
UEFA’s disciplinary statement said:
The independent UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body (CEDB) met today in Paris to deal with the disciplinary proceedings opened against the Russian Football Union (RFU) following the incidents which occurred inside the Stade Velodrome in Marseille, at the UEFA EURO 2016 match against England on 11 June (1-1).
Charges relating to crowd disturbances, use of fireworks and racist behaviour had been brought against the RFU, and the CEDB decided to impose the following sanctions:
* A fine of €150,000.-
* A suspended disqualification of the Russian national team from UEFA EURO 2016 for the crowd disturbances. In accordance with Article 20 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations*, this disqualification is suspended until the end of the tournament. Such suspension will be lifted if incidents of a similar nature (crowd disturbances) happen inside the stadium at any of the remaining matches of the Russian team during the tournament.
The decision of the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body is open to appeal.
This decision only relates to the incidents which occurred inside the stadium and are therefore under the jurisdiction of the UEFA disciplinary bodies.
A hard core of Russian followers have European Championship ‘form’.
After incidents at the 2012 finals in Poland the Russian Football Union was punished by UEFA’s disciplinary panel for crowd disturbances, the setting off and throwing of fireworks and the display of illicit banners at a group against the Czech Republic in Wroclaw.
UEFA handed down a suspended six-point deduction and fined the Russian FA €120,000. The points suspension probation period expired after the conclusion of the Euro 2016 qualifying competition. Hence the Russians came to France with a clean record.