AN EVESHAM football fan has revealed he felt ‘extremely unsafe’ in the Stade Velodrome during England’s opening game in Euro 2016.
Shaun Smith spoke to The Observer after returning from Marseille where he and two friends watched England draw 1-1 with Russia on Saturday (June 12).
Despite the drama on the field, the headlines were made off the pitch with violence inside and outside the stadium on the days leading up to the game and on matchday.
Shaun said he and his friends saw the violence and had tickets in the area of the stadium where Russian and English fans were both sitting.
“During the match it was fine because the focus was on the football, but after seeing them fire a flare into the crowd, you could tell it was going to turn violent,” he said.
“We felt extremely unsafe in the stadium. The only separation between the two groups of fans was a few local stewards and a piece of rope.
“As the Russians started rushing the English fans and some locals, a lot of people started running the other way
“I saw down near the pitch people jumping out onto it to get safe while others were climbing the railings to try and get away from the trouble,” he added.
Shaun claimed police ‘didn’t seem interested’ in stopping the culprits although UEFA issued Russia with a suspended disqualification from the tournament and 150,000 euro fine following the behaviour of the so-called ‘Ultras’.
Six England fans, aged 20 to 41, have also received jail sentences ranging from one to three months as a result of the disorder.
“Of course there’s always a few idiots from the England side who didn’t help the situation, retaliating with throwing bottles and furniture,” Shaun added.
“But when you see Russians not wearing team colours with gum shields and MMA gloves on, some also wielding weapons, you can understand some fear and need to protect yourself,” he added.
Shaun branded police tactics to surround the fans in riot gear and use tear gas and pepper spray as ‘unnecessary in most cases’ and said it dispersed groups to other locations for trouble to flare up again.