AN England supporter was taken to hospital after being whacked on the head with a wooden chair like a WWF wrestler as fans scuffled with Marseille locals ahead of Saturday’s match against Russia in the French port city.
Another two English fans were arrested after the tragicomic scenes which saw French police disperse the crowd with teargas and a gaggle of bellies chanting “Isis, where are you?”
The trouble flared outside the Queen Victoria pub in Marseille’s historic quarter, with England supporters setting up camp there, drinking and screeching before being taken to task by a group of 30-40 local men.
Riot police, quickly summoned amid lingering tension over a terrorist attack, were soon at the scene and separated the two groups using shields, dogs and teargas. Footage showed men tossing plastic chairs around, while afterwards residents and shop workers swept up the mess.
“There’s not huge numbers of England fans in town yet, probably the biggest congregation anywhere was outside this pub,” said Kevin Miles, chief executive of the Football Supporters’ Federation.
“People were drinking and having a bit of a sing-song all day, the French police were very relaxed, letting them get on with it.
“It was all fine until, our understanding is, a group of around 30 to 40 locals turned up, I think with the intention of provoking the England fans to see if they could get a rise out of them. In those circumstances, it’s the police’s job to prevent a confrontation and they used French methods to do so, which we’re not particularly used to.
“They used teargas, which is a little bit indiscriminate for my liking, but it did the job and the problems were over. There were a couple of arrests of English fans as they responded to that provocation.”