French crack down ahead of England game

French authorities are restricting the sale of alcohol and drafting in 4,000 extra police in Lille ahead of England and Russia’s next Euro 2016 matches.

Shops selling alcohol will be closed until Friday, while some 350 bars will shut early on Wednesday and Thursday.

England and Russia fans are gathering in Lille, and the FA has expressed “serious concerns” about security after clashes between supporters last week.

Russia has been given a suspended disqualification from the tournament.

And six England fans were jailed following Russia and England’s draw in Marseille on Saturday.

Fans from the two teams are due to cross paths again as England supporters travel to Lille ahead of Thursday’s match against Wales – which is being held in nearby Lens – while Russia will play Slovakia in Lille itself on Wednesday.

Prefect of the northern region, Michel Lalande, said there would be a drinking ban in some parts of central Lille and at the stadium.

Shops selling alcohol would be closing in the city from 18:00 local time (17:00 BST) on Tuesday and will reopen at 06:00 (05:00 BST) on Friday, he said.

England fans are being discouraged from travelling without a ticket, and the authorities are asking fans if they can wait to travel on Thursday to watch the Wales game.

Those without tickets can watch the match in the city’s fan zone, where lower strength beer will be sold.

Mr Lalande also said no beer would be sold in green bottles as they can be used as ammunition, adding that anyone carrying out violence would be removed from the country.

‘We are friends’

By James Reevell, BBC News, in Lille

As the day has continued, English, Welsh and Russian fans have started to fill Lille’s city centre.

The English and Welsh fans are clearly worried about the prospect of a repeat of the weekend’s violence in Marseilles.

“They’re a different class” of hooligans, one English fan said, referring to the Russia supporters blamed for the worst of the clashes.

But Russian fans are insistent that it is a violent minority who are not real football fans that are responsible.

“We are friends with England”, one fan told us.

However, supporters of both sides have been drinking freely in the city’s squares, and a heavy police presence suggests that there could still be trouble ahead.

There have been reports of minor scuffles between rival fans in Lille on Tuesday evening.

Russia has received a suspended disqualification from the tournament and been fined 150,000 euros (£119,000) over crowd trouble at the match against England in Marseille.

Uefa, the organisers of Euro 2016, said the punishment would be fully imposed if similar incidents happen at any of Russia’s remaining matches.

Home Secretary Theresa May described the disorder as “deeply disturbing” and said the UK was offering support with investigations and “post-incident analysis”.

England could also face expulsion by Uefa if there is any further violence.

But in a letter to Uefa, Football Association chairman Greg Dyke rejected the suggestion that England fans were at fault for scenes inside the Stade Velodrome following Saturday’s match with Russia.

And he said he had “serious concerns around the security arrangements” for Lille given that Russia was playing there on Wednesday.

England fans, particularly those without match tickets, had previously been advised to stay in Lille because Lens is so small, Mr Dyke explained.

Thousands of supporters are expected to follow Thursday’s match between Wales and England at fan zones in the Place Jean Jaures in Lens and also Lille, which is 24 miles (39km) away.

More than 35,000 ticket holders are due to watch the clash in the Stade Bollaert-Delelis.

In other developments:

  • The Foreign Office has issued advice to fans travelling to France for games
  • Mrs May said the UK was sending police spotters – officers trained to spot trouble-makers at football matches – to support French authorities
  • Additional British Transport Police officers will be sent to support rail services in the area
  • Wales fans without tickets for Thursday’s match have been urged not to travel to Lens or Lille
  • Andrew Bache, from Portsmouth, is in a coma after being attacked in France last week
  • One England fan involved in disorder in Marseille has been handed a five-year football ban
  • Groups of Russian fans are being deported from France

Some 35 people have been injured – four seriously, and most of them England fans – and a total of 20 people were arrested after three days of disorder in Marseille.

French prosecutors have said 150 Russian hooligans were behind the violence in the city’s Stade Velodrome on Saturday, after Russian fans appeared to rush at England supporters.

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