20 Russian fans deported from France but plan to return

AP News
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Posted: Jun 18, 2016 9:07 AM

A group of 20 Russian soccer fans has been deported from France after being accused of involvement in hooliganism at the European Championship.

The deportations from Nice airport follow mass fighting in the streets involving English, Russian and French fans in the run-up to last week's 1-1 draw between England and Russia.

The fans had been accused by Marseille prefect Stephane Bouillon of "participation in skirmishes linked to the England-Russia game."

Despite their impending removal from France, Alexander Shprygin, the leader of a Russian fan group who is among the 20 to be deported, told The Associated Press that their visas would not be canceled and all planned to return to France for Monday's match against Wales.

"What has happened to us is a complete outrage," Shprygin said by telephone from the airport, adding the 20 were not involved in any disorder.

Shprygin, who heads the government-linked All-Russian Fans' Union, has been accused of far-right links and admitted posting far-right symbols online but denies he or his organization are racist.

The 20 were part of a larger group of Russians who were detained by French authorities on Tuesday following violent disorder around England's 1-1 draw with Russia last Saturday, when Russian hooligan groups were involved in attacks inside and outside the stadium.

French authorities, acting on a tip-off from Russian police, raided a hotel near Cannes on Sunday and combed through hundreds of hours of video to link suspects to the disorder.

Three Russian fans were convicted of offenses related to the violence and sentenced to prison terms of between one and two years, with video evidence playing a key role in the trial, including footage of the disorder filmed by another Russian fan and posted online.

Two of the three who were convicted were members of the board at Shprygin's organization, and the third was an associate of Shprygin in a Dynamo Moscow fan club.