Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Euro 2012 Violence: Russian, Polish Hooligans Clash In Warsaw

Russian football fans clashed with police and Poland supporters in separate incidents in Warsaw tonight, shortly before the two teams were to meet in an emotionally charged match at Euro 2012.

Police said 10 people were injured; seven Poles, two Russians and one German. In what appeared to be the most violent incident, Polish football hooligans were seen attacking Russians, who responded violently.

The two sides, made up of dozens of men, kicked and beat each other in the face, while flares could be seen exploding in their midst.

Several people lay injured and bleeding on the ground, with one of them appearing to be seriously hurt. Poland and Russia fans were also seen fighting and throwing stones outside the stadium.

There were a number of other incidents as well, which came as about 5,000 Russia fans waving their country's flag marched to the stadium in a show of patriotism seen as provocative to many Poles. One Russian who didn't have tickets to the game, but made the two-day car trip from Moscow simply to be in be the city, said it was wrong for the Russians to march in Warsaw given the countries' troubled history.

"The march, it wasn't right. It was a provocation. It shouldn't happen like this. But there are also aggressive Poles and we are scared here," said the 26-year-old man, who gave only his first name, Petya.

He and a friend had hoped to cross a bridge leading from the city center to the stadium to soak up the atmosphere in the area. But they gave up that notion and were sitting outside, sipping on beers from a distance, and were about to go watch the match on TV in an apartment with friends.

In recent days, Polish media have tried to stir up nationalistic sentiments over the match, suggesting the encounter would be more than a simple football competition. Newspapers Monday were full of dramatic references to Poland's victorious 1920 battle against the Bolshevik Army, known as the Miracle on the Vistula.

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