BBC commentator says he’ll boycott Russia World Cup over security concerns

England fans taunt Russia supporters ahead of England's EURO 2016 match in Marseille, France, June 10, 2016. © Jean-Paul Pelissier
Veteran BBC sports commentator Alan Green says he will “under no circumstances” cover the 2018 World Cup in Russia amid days of violent clashes between football fans in Marseille.

Green, who has covered World Cup and European games for more than 30 years without missing a single tournament, told BBC 5 that he had made his mind up never to return to Russia eight years ago following Manchester United's Champions League win over Chelsea at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. 

His comments come after a weekend of severe clashes between Russia and England fans in Marseille.

Six Britons, including a 16-year-old, and three French and an Austrian have been charged with throwing bottles during the street battles and are to face immediate trial, French prosecutors have confirmed. The fans are among 116 people who have been detained in connection with the disorder.

Some 150 suspected Russian hooligans, who are thought to have been behind much of the violence, however, have evaded arrest, Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin has said.

The news comes after Uefa, European football governing body, warned both England and Russia that the could be expelled from the Euro 2016 if the violence wrought by the teams’ fans over the weekend in Marseille continues.

England’s Football Association (FA) has meanwhile urged England supporters to heed Uefa’s warning and to “act in a responsible and respectful way.”

“Violent scenes like those witnessed over the weekend in Marseille have no place in football, nor society as a whole,” said chief executive of the FA Martin Glenn.

“We want people – fans and locals – to feel safe and enjoy a festival atmosphere at the Euros and we will continue to work closely with all the relevant authorities to achieve that.”

More than 1,200 riot police were deployed to break up disturbances in Marseille's Old Port area over the weekend, which began when hundreds of fans hurled bottles and chairs at each other.

England fans were involved in altercations with Russian supporters ahead of the Group B match between the teams on Saturday, and after the game, which ended in a 1-1 draw, while Russia fans wearing balaclavas charged England fans inside State Velodrome after the game.

The French interior minister has said that the time and resources spent by authorities on responding to fan violence was distracting police from fighting terrorism.

“Their actions distract the police from their primary mission, which is to protect our country from the terrorist threat,” said Bernard Cazeneuve.

The warning comes after French socialist deputy Patrick Menucci demanded that Britain contribute towards the costs of cleaning up Marseille.

“What has happened with the English fans is unbearable and extremely shocking,” he said.

"I hope at least that when the bill for the damage has been completed, their country will contribute to the cost because it should not be the people of Marseille who have to put their hand in their pocket."

France has issued a ban on alcohol around Euro game stadiums and fan zones following the disturbances over the weekend.