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Polish PM condemns rioting fans
Prime Minister Tusk labels rioting Russian and Polish fans as 'idiots' as UEFA question heavy-handed police presence.
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2012 15:42
Riot police used water cannons and tear gas on Polish and Russian fans before the game, but European football’s governing body criticised the spirit of the heavy police presence at the stadium [EPA]

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Wednesday vowed to get tough with fans who marred a high-profile Euro 2012 match between the national side and Russia, calling them "idiots" who would feel the full force of the law.

More than 180 supporters were detained after police were forced to use water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse violent fans who clashed on the streets of the capital Warsaw on Tuesday.

Police had mounted what they said was their biggest ever security operation amid fears of trouble before, during and after the match, which took place on Russia's national day and against a backdrop of turbulent political and historic ties.

"It (the violence) really wasn't any historic Polish-Russian battle but rather involved several hundred idiots from both sides," Tusk told reporters.

"We'll teach them all a lesson, whether they're Polish or Russian or someone else."

‘Hooligans’

Poland's sports minister, Joanna Mucha, had earlier described those involved as "your average hooligans who have nothing in common with real fans" but nevertheless said she was shocked by the violence.

Police, who had 6,000 officers out in force, said in a statement they had arrested 157 Poles and 24 Russians, as well as a Spaniard, a Hungarian and an Algerian. Ten police officers were treated for injuries, as well as 10 fans.

European football's governing body on Wednesday also condemned the clashes, which threatened to overshadow one of the most high-profile matches of the tournament that began in Warsaw last Friday and ends in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, on July 1.

The match itself ended 1-1, with Poland captain Jakub "Kuba" Blaszczykowski cancelling out a first-half goal from Russia's Alan Dzaegov.

Questionable tactics

European football's governing body UEFA also said it condemned the violence, calling those involved "groups of known troublemakers" rather than genuine fans.

"Those arrested and charged will have to be dealt with by the relevant authorities," UEFA said in an emailed statement.

But the organisation set itself at odds with the Polish authorities and their show of strength at the end of the match, when hundreds of black-clad police in full riot gear amassed in front of the 10,000 or so Russian fans in the stadium.

"UEFA's philosophy is to create a welcoming environment coupled with a low-profile approach to policing," it added.

"The focus should be on facilitating the enjoyment of the matches by genuine football fans and isolating the tiny percentage of troublemakers. UEFA is in a constant dialogue with the public authorities in order to achieve this aim."

Prime Minister Tusk, though, was unrepentant and defended the high-profile policing tactics.

"We had intelligence that there was a high risk that fans of the Russian team could invade the pitch after the match, which is why there were police in the stadium," he added.

"I know that some people aren't happy about it. UEFA has a different point of view here but we're the ones in charge of the security of people in this country and that's why we took this decision."

Russian fans set off and threw at least two firecrackers on to the pitch after Dzaegov's goal but there were no other apparent incidents inside the showpiece sports venue, AFP reporters and photographers at the match said.

Russia play their final group match against Greece on Saturday, also in Warsaw.

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AFP
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