Marseille police spray rowdy fans with tear gas on Euro 2016 opening day (VIDEOS, PHOTOS)
Clashes erupted around 6:30pm, when Russia and England fans threw fists, flares and projectiles at each other, Police Commissioner Lawrence Nunez told reporters. Marseille locals were also reportedly involved in the fighting.
Officers were quickly deployed to intervene in the clashes, using tear gas. Several videos and photos posted online show French police, in full riot gear, coming face to face with an aggressive crowd.
“Officers separated groups of English and Russian supporters,” a police source told Reuters. “They fired tear gas to disperse some drunk Englishmen.”
Video footage showed the footie supporter being wrestled to the ground while surrounding fans threw bottles and sang chants. In one particularly shameful moment, the intoxicated crowd were filmed chanting: “We're racist and that's the way we like it!”
Seven people were arrested, Nunez said, adding that no injuries were reported on the eve of the match between England and Russia.
After the initial clashes, random scuffles mainly by English fans were again witnessed in the same area of the city into the night.
On Thursday night Marseille police deployed tear gas to break up the hundreds of football supporters who had gathered outside an Irish pub. An altercation between the fans and some local youths led to the arrest of one England fan and one local.
The England team’s opening game against Russia takes place in the French capital on Saturday.