7 June: Three days before the beginning of Euro 2016, the French government is already worried about organization and security issues. For France, the danger is high: terrorist threats, demonstrations, floods. A consistent security package has already been set up. unfortunately it did not prevent from the following events.
11 June: The England-Russia match in Marseille saw the first riots between supporters.
14 June: A bus of Russian supporters were arrested by the police in the south of France. Twenty of them were recognized as hooligans, according to a surveillance recording; they left France six days later. After these arrests, Russian authorities stopped condemning the violence. Sergey Lavrov called Jean-Maurice Ripert, the French ambassador to Russia, and told him the arrests were unacceptable.
17 June: The Spain-Turkey match saw smoke bombs thrown in the stadium; the same day Croatia-Czech Republic had firecrackers thrown onto the soccer field.
18 June: Iceland-Hungary, smoke bombs were thrown in the stadium and a Hungarian supporter tried to walk onto the field.
From the beginning of the tournament: 323 persons were arrested (for violence, robbery, vandalism), 8 were sent to jail, and 24 were deported.
Now, the security issue has become even more important and is the main stake for the rest of the competition. On June 20, UEFA had a meeting with the French Department of Homeland Security to discuss a reinforced security system.
The June 19 game France-Switzerland passed without any disturbances: UEFA had hired 950 more security guards. Nevertheless, the biggest worry remained the June 20 games: Russia-Wales in Toulouse and Slovakia-England in Saint-Etienne.
In Toulouse, some extra security measures were taken at the request of the prefect: approximately 20 000 supporters are waited in the stadium, so the number of police officers will be 1900 instead of 1200. The presence of Welsh and Russian police forces is also expected. The security zone perimeter has been extended, while bringing in alcohol was banned. Unfortunately, a French public channel announced at noon that the rule was not respected and supporters could find alcohol to take away despite the ban.
However, some people want to be keep going optimistic: a Russian restaurant near from Toulouse proposed to the official Russian supporters to play a friendly match with the local veterans’ team of Castanet, the little village where the restaurant is. A good occasion for Russian supporters to show their good intentions.
Finally, the June 20 game took place without violence, but, one of the 20 Russian supporters deported one week before was actually in the stadium.
It was Alexander Shprygin, the President of the association of the Russian supporters, who is also a partner of Igor Lebedev, chairman of the Extreme right party LDPR. He already had announced on social networks that he would come back from Moscow for next Russia’s game, and he actually did. The French authorities arrested him again at the end of the game, he declared for his defense that his Schengen visa was still valid and there’s nothing wrong to be in EU. He also told the AFP that three others supporters supposed to be deported came back with him, before being arrested. He is now held in custody, waiting for his sentence.
In Saint-Etienne, the security system has not been improved as in Toulouse, but there are also some worries because of a grudge between Slovaks and English. In 2002, right after a turbulent incident in Bratislava, two English supporters were seriously injured by a Slovak who stabbed them. The tension was still present during the return match in Middlesbrough; some ultras Slovaks made racist remarks towards the English supporters. Since then, the relationship is strained. Nevertheless yesterday, against all odds, the game took place in a good atmosphere and no excesses were noted.