At least six England football fans have been jailed after clashes on the sidelines of their team’s opening match against Russia in Marseille on Saturday.
Point of view
"You see more justice in kangaroo courts"Father of convicted fan
But while ‘highly trained’ Russian hooligans were involved in the worst of the fighting, according to the city’s prosecutor, none of them were in the dock.
Chris Booth’s son Alex got two months behind bars for throwing a plastic bottle at police.
“It is a joke. It is a sacrilege…it is pathetic,” Booth senior told reporters in Marseille.
“What is the phrase for French justice?…You see more justice in kangaroo courts.”
“I’m truly sorry. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I’m no hooligan,” Booth, a 20-year-old cook, told the judge before his two-month sentence was read out.
French nationals and an Austrian were also in court for fast-track trials.
Defence lawyer Marion Dutard believes jail is intended as a clear signal.
“I think it is a verdict that shows they wanted to make an example and send a message,” she said.
“We are at the start of Euro 2016 and perhaps it is to discourage that kind of behaviour, to dissuade potential supporters at the next matches from behaving like that.”
After the weekend clashes, some Russians posted photos of themselves on social media holding stolen English supporters’ flags upside down – some spotted with blood – as trophies.
The hooligans, who often refer to themselves as ‘ultras’, belong to an organised tradition of hooliganism which has its roots mainly around clubs in Moscow and St Petersburg.
No Russians were arrested over the weekend, Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin acknowledged. Asked why not, the prosecutor said they had carried out lightning strikes which made arrests difficult and that closed-circuit television footage was still being studied. “These are highly trained people,” Robin said.
England fans have said they were ambushed by squads of Russian assailants in at least one incident, though the Marseille prosecutor made clear that England supporters were responsible for some of the skirmishes in Marseille.
European football’s governing body, UEFA, has launched disciplinary proceedings against Russia’s football authorities after their supporters stormed England fans in the Marseille stadium following the final whistle.
UEFA has warned Russian and English football associations that if fan violence continues, both teams could be disqualified from the tournament.