England manager Roy Hodgson and captain Wayne Rooney have appealed directly to fans to stay out of trouble following UEFA’s threat to expel the team from Euro 2016.
In an unprecedented move, the pair recorded a video, shared by the English Football Association on Twitter, in which Hodgson and Rooney urge supporters to do everything in their power to avoid repeats of the violent scenes which marred their time in Marseille.
Hodgson pleaded with fans to ensure Uefa’s threats to dismiss England and Russia from the tournament should there be further disturbances “are never carried out” while Rooney asked those without tickets for games not to travel.
Three days of clashes involving English, Russian and French fans provided a grim backdrop to their Group B opener at the Stade Velodrome. The Football Union of Russia was charged by Uefa for events inside the ground – alleged crowd disturbances, racist behaviour and the setting off of fireworks – but further statements made it clear that the Football Association was also under the microscope after violent scenes in the city’s Old Port area before and after the game.
Hodgson said: “As England manager I am very concerned about the threat now hanging over us and the sanctions that could possibly be imposed on the England team. We’ve worked very hard to get here and we really desperately want to stay in the competition. I’m appealing, therefore, to all of our fans, and we appreciate your support at the matches of course. I’m appealing for you to stay out of trouble, to try and make certain these threats that are being issued are never carried out and we are able to attempt the best we can to stay in this competition by football means.”
Rooney, representing the players, added: “I’d like to thank England fans for the support inside the stadium against Russia and now we have a big game coming up against Wales. I’d like to ask the fans, if you don’t have a ticket, please don’t travel. And for fans with tickets, please be safe, be sensible and continue with your great support of the players. Thank you.”
Uefa said of England and Russia on Sunday it would “not hesitate to impose additional sanctions, including the potential disqualification of their respective teams from the tournament, should such violence occur again”. That was followed by a swift response from FA chief executive Martin Glenn, who called on England followers to act in a “responsible and respectful way”.
But there are already worries over more trouble in Lille this week. Russia play Slovakia there tomorrow, with England facing Wales just 23 miles away in Lens the following day.
Brice Robin, Marseille’s chief prosecutor, told reporters yesterday that 150 Russian hooligans described as ‘’hyper violent’’ and ‘’hyper rapid’’ were involved in the incidents in the city. The fact that just two Russian fans have been arrested, and those for invading the pitch, presents a clear cause for concern.
With that in mind the government has offered to send additional British police to help their French counterparts. Downing Street said Home Secretary Theresa May made the offer during a meeting with her counterpart, the French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve.