Paris: Russia will be disqualified from the European Championship if there is more violence by their fans inside stadiums in France. UEFA sent the message today in a disciplinary panel ruling to punish disorder at the team’s opening match against England.
Russia will be expelled if its fans attack rival fans or stadium security staff at its two remaining Group B matches, or later at Euro 2016 if the team advances.
Russia’s “disqualification is suspended until the end of the tournament,” UEFA said. “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.”
Russia play Slovakia in Lille tomorrow and Wales in Toulouse next Monday.
UEFA also fined the Russian soccer federation 150,000 euros (USD 169,000). The charges were for crowd disturbances, fans aiming racial insults at black England players and setting off fireworks during the game.
UEFA can punish soccer bodies only for the actions of their ticketed fans in and around stadiums.
Russia and England played a 1-1 draw in Marseille on Saturday amid rising tension after several days of clashes between rival fans, French youths and local police.
Though England fans were at the center of the first skirmishes, the violence levels increased when Russian fans arrived closer to the matchday.
A prosecutor in Marseille yesterday blamed “highly trained” Russian thugs for the worst of the violence in the cobbled streets of the city’s Old Port and around the Stade Velodrome.
Russian fans have caused the worst violence inside stadiums for the second straight European Championship. Among the incidents back in Euro 2012, stadium security staff in Wroclaw, Poland, were assaulted by Russian fans at Russia’s opening 4-1 victory over the Czech Republic.
Four years ago, UEFA deferred a punishment of ordering Russia to play three home Euro 2016 qualifying games in empty stadiums. The stadium ban would have been activated if fan violence during qualifying matches was repeated.
UEFA had initially threatened Russia with a six-point deduction in Euro 2016 qualifying but that was removed when the Russian Football Union appealed to UEFA. A fine of 120,000 euros (USD 150,000) was maintained.