Russian striker accuses British of antagonising other fans
‘Russian fans were provoked by the British supporters’
England fans celebrate at the Fanzone in Lille
Russia striker Fyodor Smolov insists that English and Welsh fans were guilty of antagonising their Russian counterparts during scuffles that broke out in Lille earlier in Euro 2016.
Riot police used tear gas to disperse fans, while 36 people were arrested in Lille ahead of the second round of Group B matches, although the scenes of violence that accompanied Russia's opener with England in Marseille were largely avoided.
Asked whether Russia should follow the lead of Croatia, whose coach Ante Cacic said Croatia fans who threw flares onto the pitch during their draw with the Czech Republic were ‘sports terrorists’, Smolov revealed that he feels the Russian fans were provoked by the British supporters.
"A number of videos have been uploaded onto the web and clearly the English and the Welsh provoked them," Smolov told reporters.
"Clearly these things mustn't go on in the stands," he said. "If people should go out with the intention of fighting, they shouldn't do it in the stadium."
In light of the potential for further violence as Russian and Welsh supporters converge on Toulouse ahead of their decisive Group B fixture on Monday, Russian coach Leonid Slutski is confident that there won't be further scenes of disorder.
"Any violence is in the past because a number of measures were taken after the Marseille match (between England and Russia on June 11) to organise things," he said.
Forty-three Russia fans suspected of taking part in clashes with England supporters in Marseille were detained, while Lens and Lille imposed alcohol bans in order to avert further hooliganism.
Russia were also handed a suspended disqualification from the competition and will be thrown out if there is a repeat of the violent clashes that marred their opener.
"We want our supporters to continue supporting us, but within the framework of existing legislation," he added. "Not just in football, but within a civilised society."
Russia need a win to guarantee a place in the Round of 16, having drawn 1-1 with England in their opener before being defeated 2-1 by Slovakia.